Hitting the spot

In his essay, "The Specialization of Poetry," Wendell Berry examines the way 20th Century poets developed inner worlds of words, often to the exclusion of experiencing an active life outside themselves. He quotes one of those poetic guys: "I have the feeling that I am a metaphor for my own being."

While he bemoans this state of affairs, Berry, a poet himself, appreciates many contributions of the specialized poets. He simply notes that we have to think in broader terms, no matter what we're doing with our talents, jobs, livelihoods.

I love best what he says here. It grabs me where I exist these days, and I've thought along somewhat similar lines many times, but have lacked Mr. Wendell's eloquence:
Perhaps the time has come to say that there is, in reality, no such choice as Yeats's "Perfection of life, or of the work." The division implied by this proposed choice is not only destructive; it is based upon a shallow understanding of the relation between work and life. The conflicts of life and work, like those of rest and work, would ideally be resolved in balance: enough of each. In practice, however, they probably can be resolved (if that is the word) only in tension, in a principled unwillingness to let go of either, or to sacrifice either to the other. But it is a necessary tension, the grief in it both inescapable and necessary.

Comments

Patti said…
What a perfect solution to think of it this way! I really like Wendell Berry's writing.

Is Victoria going to be able to to Germany in August? I know Sam is really looking forward to it.
Deanna said…
Yeah, Patti, I'm a Wendell fan.

I think Victoria would love to go to Germany, but funding's an issue. So glad Sam can go!
Cecily said…
Hmmm, I'll have to ponder this. I've always been a fan of balance but find it almost impossible to achieve... maybe this is the key. Finding a place in the tension that holds me upright and in state of being able to function.
Sandy's Notes said…
Balance is my favorite word for 2008. But I must admit, there doesn't seem to be a peaceful balance between life and work. My life and work blend together too often. "Tension, in a pricipled unwillingness to let go of either." Hmmm.
Deanna said…
Cecily and Sandy, you're both people whose attempts to deal with life I follow with great interest. Let me know where your ponderings take you next.
Mike S said…
Without the 'tension' one or more of life's pleasures would be surely lost.