Wendell Berry

The Old Elm Tree by the River

    Shrugging in the flight of its leaves,
    it is dying. Death is slowly
    standing up in its trunk and branches
    like a camouflaged hunter. In the night
    I am wakened by one of its branches
    crashing down, heavy as a wall, and then
    lie sleepless, the world changed.
    That is a life I know the country by.
    Mine is a life I know the country by.
    Willing to live and die, we stand here,
    timely and at home, neighborly as two men.
    Our place is changing in us as we stand,
    and we hold up the weight that will bring us down.
    In us the land enacts its history.
    When we stood it was beneath us, and was
    the strength by which we held to it
    and stood, the daylight over it
    a mighty blessing we cannot bear for long.