Excerpts from the writings of Stephen Berer

In the Harvest ov Nations
Begun in 1980 and completed in 1982

This long narrative poem is composed in three books. Book 1, Old Wirld, is a semi-mythic telling of nations descending into nuclear war, and the transformations of a normal man who stood outside of society and became the unexpected leader of a small group of survivors. This book is written in five line stanzas, each line having five strong beats, and any number of weak beats. This kind of meter, based entirely on the number of strong beats per line, remains the defining feature of most of my poetry.
Book 2, Passij, describes the struggles the surviving remnant experience, and the imperceptible, evolutionary changes in consciousness they go through. With the exception of the recording of a number of tales and folk songs (including the excerpt below), the meter in this and the following book changes, reflecting the progressively lightening mood. Now stanzas have four lines with four strong beats. Book 3, Nu Wirld, tells the stories of settling down and recreating a new society with new values and a more advanced consciousness to help hold to those values. I am proposing the possibility of species wide evolution accelerated by stress and trauma, that might lead to a more ethically advanced culture.


From Book 1: Old Wirld
So! Three jenneratens hav shed thair Life
And Ertha ar frutefull and our Lord ar omniprezen
And now our Mater, whu hold us in her buzzem
Giv us strenth and sines and poten Knowen
Tu rekord the Wirlds ending and a nu Beginning
We whu stammer in fase ov cold oblivvion,
Whu trembel contrite at edj ov extinktion
Whu adhere tu nu Commands in holyest gladness
Huze Law iz our Faters, incompletely understoo
But givven tu our elders, a mersyfull exchanj for Life.
My fothers, fothers, fother stood az witness
Tu blinding Lite and oblitteraten ov cultur
Tu the unconditional end ov childes misdirected
Ov erring and evel ways that assended unrestraind
Swiftly and inevvitably stricken from this Sakred Home
Befor this time ov Life from ignorense awaked,
Befor our Boddys held the propper ballense
And Life seemd not directed tord Perfecten Knowe
But rather swayd in tides ov annima emoten
Then Erthas Wume like furnas burnd in birth throes...
...Inspire yur childes, Fater ov fothers! O Mater
Nurtur yur dellikat wuns with compassionat gidense
That this Book rekord the end ov wirlds and Beginnin
Ov we whu dwell in rugged mountens, and vally
Steep and fertil and safe from khaos and despair. Diktate
From Book 2: Passaj
Way down in the vally, wut did I see?
But an old time sitty lookin down at me.
An thare waz bildings tall az mountens
Houzes strung like hill
An nobuddy wokkin in that plas
But a debbel lookin for thrills
An nobuddy wokkin in that plase
But a debbel lookin for thrills
Me, I started runnin thru allys and avvenus
Throwin rocks and swarin an belloin like a moos
I waz lookin for gold and jewwel
An sum hunny tu lay her down
How did a raskal fool az m
e Evver escape from that town?
How did a raskal fool az me
Evver escape from that town?
Then the debbel wisperd: "Yur my man!" he sed.
I figgurd he'd give me powwers, or maybe take my hed!
My hart, she waz a-thumpin, But that boy, he dissappeerd
An the plase waz filld with peepel
An me, I held thair Spere
The plase waz filld with peepel
An I held the only Spere
Why did a fool raskal get that awfull Spere?
Wichevver way Ide poin it, crowds would shout: "Not heer!
I thru it down in anger,
And all them fantems fell.
My hart thumd loud az a drumbea
t Az I hytaild outa hell.
Yeah, my hart bangd loud az a drumbeet
Az I beet it outa hell.
From Book 3: Nu Wirld
Our fothers lernd Erthas trust, and our muthers
Her lov az thay made assent tu the Mouth
This outcast tribe, wunse straggling and motly
Strode with purpos thru the chartless wood
Wen thay reechd the Mouth ov the Serpent, thair mines
Swum in the dizzying hites and the vist
Ov sno-peekd mountens and steep verdent vally
And pristene stillness. Thay forgot Old Wirld
Thus the Life that we kno so well
Began. A lifetime ago Shaliyi
Waz dreem; and now thoze pryor aje
Ar all forgot, save the Terrer and Oath
Immajjin a forrest ware no sound iz herd
But human sounds; no birds twittering
No small creeturs russling, no crickets chirping
No mating calls; mankine so feerd
Immajjin the rugged and deseptiv terrain,
The tangel and brambel and impassabel marsh
The cleff-trails that fall off a thouzend feet
Or the ded-end canyens and passes. Then compare
We now liv neer Eldern, we liv with Hope
Tho our lives ar tennuous and our labers hard
In Erthas compassion, at peese with all creeturs,
In expansiv spases, our Life iz glad


Poetry, Writing, and Art by Stephen Berer © 2010. All rights reserved.