The Country Of Marriage
by Wendell Berry

I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.

This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earth's empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.

How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.

Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don't know what its limits are--
that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen tine and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.

What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.

I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.
I give you the life I have let live for the love of you:
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life
that we have planted in the ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself
again and again, and satisfy--and this poem,
no more mine than any man's who has loved a woman.
We can quickly lose through carelessness what we gained through grace with much time and effort.
Love/Life Poems
The First Fruit Salad
Almanac of Last Things
Lighting Your Birthday Cake
What We Need/First Calf
Emily Rose
After an Absence
On the Way to Work
Misery Loves Company
Having Come This Far
First He Looked Confused
The Country of Marriage
Love Poem
In the Department Store
Poem for the Family
The Perfect Day
What She Was Wearing
These Love Poems
The Wildest Word
The Oldest Cowboy
The sun has burst the sky
Field Notes
Aunt Bobby
After Love
Lute Music
Cabbage Moths
Cutting the Cake
Advice to Men Seeking Love
Ex-boyfriends in Heaven
Anne Porter's Poetry
Nature Morte Au Plat Et Pommes
Failing and Flying
Let Hours
Early in the Morning
My Son
How to Like It
No Solicitations Allowed
In the Middle
My Methodist Grandmother Said
Some Talking in Bed
The Hammock
It Is Marvelous
In My Own Mind
Peacock Display
In Praise of Imperfect Love
Great Cathedrals
You Must Accept
September Twelfth, 2001
Slow Dancing on the Highway
Cinderella's Diary
They Sit Together on the Porch
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
Second Chance
What We Want
Vocations Club
Boarding a Bus
I Married You
The Irrational Numbers of Longing
Down on My Knees
The Guest House
Mother, In Love at Sixty
Why I Have A Crush On You
The Marriage-Bed
Love After Love
On Faith
Briefly It Enters, Briefly Speaks
Nude Descending a Staircase
The judge was decent, but...
The Mutes
Mahogany China
Heaven, 1963
The Blue Robe
The Shirt
Losing Track
Sweet Darkness
The Fight
Passionate Shepherd to His Love
November Again Again
Love at First Sight
Sex Ed
Love Does That
The Portent
You Touch Me