Questionnaire (Wendell Berry)

December 1, 2009

1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

*

Wendell Berry has a new collection of poems out called Leavings which contains this poem. I leafed through the book a few weeks back, struck as always by his uncompromising politics and sense of personal responsibility. Kristin heard him read the poem on NPR yesterday, and last night I was able to listen to most of the program myself. A treat, if you have the time. You can find the interview here. He reads several poems from the volume, this one at the close of the interview.

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