Thursday, August 09, 2012

Poetry Friday -- The Real Work

The Real Work
by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

This poem goes out to all the teachers who are in back-to-school mode, and especially to all the teachers who read OPENING MINDS by Peter Johnston for #CyberPD (I missed the third post AND the final thinking, so I'm counting this poem as my contribution to both. If you read the book, you'll understand how this fits.)

I will carry this poem in my writer's notebook and in my heart this year.

It defies all logic, but I'm hoping for a year full of bafflement, knowing that my mind will be suitably, passionately, diligently employed...and that I, an impeded stream, will be singing.

Yes, I know it is Thursday. Tomorrow is the 10 for 10 Picture Book event. So I'm bringing you Friday a day early. You have a problem with that?!?!

Violet has the Poetry Friday roundup tomorrow at Violet Nesdoly / Poems.


  1. LOVE this, Mary Lee!

  2. Yes to bafflement and "real" work! This is actually very affirming to me today. Thank you. xo

  3. "The mind that is not baffled is not employed." Great inspiration, Mary Lee. Perhaps I'll do this too today. I was trying to figure out how to do 10 for 10 & Poetry Friday. I hate to miss one! Thanks for this.

  4. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

    Thank you for this, Mary Lee. I do not know which way to go on a current project, and this is just what I needed to hear!

  5. I won the Versatile Blogger Award and I agreed to pass it on to blogs I admire. Yours is one.

    By accepting this award you would agree to do the following:

    Thank the blogger who awarded you with a link back to my blog.

    Share seven things about yourself.

    Pass the award on to fifteen other newly discovered blogs.

    Do you agree? If yes, please come to, leave a comment that you accept, and right click the Versatile Award, then begin the process of passing it along to other worthy blogs.

    Thanks so much for considering my request and the award!


    1. Carolyn,
      Thank you for recognizing our blog with this award. I hear by pass this award along to every blogger who comments on this post and on our #pb10for10 posts. They are likely not newly discovered blogs, but I'm positive that they are versatile bloggers!!

  6. Hooray we are both sharing Room 228! I hope for baffling moments but also hope for friends to help me through those moments. Love the poem!!

  7. Wow, I feel honored you moved Poetry Friday to today for pb10for10. So, glad you are joining us. I too am going to put this in my writing notebook - I will never be caught without one now. :) Thinking of having one for professional writing and personal? Do you separate?

    1. I am at peace with multiple writer's notebooks. I carry a little one in my purse so that I'll never have a writing emergency (kinda like Donalyn's "reading emergencies"). I have a poetry notebook and a school/professional notebook. iPhoto is my digital writer's notebook -- a place to store future writing prompts -- and I have idea and draft files on my laptop -- also digital writer's notebooks!

  8. I'm hoping for some baffled moments this year, too. My writing goes on hiatus during the kids' summer break so I am giddy with anticipation looking forward to September.

    I keep a stack on index cards in the car and in my purse so I can jot ideas down. I glue the index cards into my notebook at home when I get a chance. :-)

  9. Wonderful. I will definitely share this with my kids. I often tell them that only when they are struggling are they actually learning. Berry says it better.

  10. Wow, according to this poem, I must really be goin' places! Whoo! :)

  11. I love that. Perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Really needed this poem today, and every day. It's all about perspective, isn't it? Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Splendid poem for moodling...the best kind.

    Violet N.

  14. Thank You! So true,

  15. What a beautiful picture! And the last line definitely caught me: "The impeded stream is the one that sings." - a great reminder for teachers in looking out for those underachieving, shy, slow-to-warm-up kids.

  16. Mary Lee,
    You are right. This is a perfect poem to ponder after reading Peter Johnston's book. It made me feel better as I am constantly feeling baffled in all I do. Trying to come to terms with this state of uncertainty in learning.

    I am so glad you are joining #pb10for10 and still getting a poem out into the world.


  17. I love this, Mary Lee! Wishing you a joyful song.


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