Monday, March 28, 2011


A Natural Way to Make You Young

Wendell Berry, "The Love of Farming," in What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010), pp. 37-40 (at 39):
In Goethe’s Faust, the devil Mephistopheles is fulfilling some of the learned doctor’s wishes by means of witchcraft, which the doctor is finding unpleasant. The witches cook up a brew that promises to make him young, but Faust is nauseated by it. He asks (this is Randall Jarrell’s translation):
Has neither Nature nor some noble mind
Discovered some remedy, some balsam?
Mephistopheles, who is a truth-telling devil, replies:
There is a natural way to make you young...
                            Go out in a field
And start right in to work: dig, hoe,
Keep your thoughts and yourself in that field,
Eat the food you raise...
Be willing to manure the field you harvest.
And that’s the best way—take it from me!—
To go on being young at eighty.
Faust, a true intellectual, unsurprisingly objects:
Oh, but to live spade in hand—
I’m not used to it, I couldn’t stand it.
So narrow a life would not suit me.
And Mephistopheles replies:
Well then, we still must have the witch.
I am indebted once again to R.E. Mason, who gave me a copy of Wendell Berry's excellent book. Thanks very much, Mr. Mason.

Related post: Panacea.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?