Last Night at the Warren

By

Spring is coming to Tennessee.

I made it home in time last night after band rehearsal to sit on an old bench in the woods behind my house and write for a spell, something that hasn’t happened for too long.

I’ve been writing on the laptop so much lately that I’ve forgotten how good it is to feel the scratch of pen on paper, the rhythm of making the forms of letters and words rather than just pounding them out on a keyboard.

Here’s what came out.


I.

Music filled the room just an hour ago.

Five men, all bound by common purposes,

Common needs, thinking, expressing a felt

Remembrance, for a time, of the heart’s leap

That led us to commune with the Maker

By making; we became younger, older,

The moment expanding to encompass

The wider, deeper world of which we sang.


II.

Now, after a short drive through smoke and noise,

I am sitting on a wooden bench, hushed

In the last light of the day, in silence

That fades, as I wait, into another

Kind of music: the sound of birds calling,

Brown leafless branches clicking together

When a bird leaps and flaps away to nest

Before a dark, long, and heavy silence

Takes its place over and among the woods.


III.

Can God be known here? Here in this wild place

hemmed by highways, stitched with black powerlines,

Defying what they call “development”

And “progress” as the wet green fungus sighs

Over exposed bedrock; as bright new grass

In tufts comes out of sleep and crowds the path

I cut through the brambles? This place is mine

And it is not mine. It is mine because

My name is on the deed. It is not mine

Because a bank’s name is there beside it.

Mine because I have loved it, if only

For a year now, and yet not mine because

I did not, could not, make it, can’t keep it

Alive or kill it, because it is ancient

And it is a part of an earth that will

Outlive me as I now live. A day comes

When I too will be ancient and holy,

And this wild place, redeemed, will sing with me.

It will belong, I will belong, fully,

Joyfully, to him who set us both free.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all within it.


IV.

The resurrection and the life. Christ, whose

Mind imagined and made the ground where now

I sit, is as alive as the frogs chirping,

Welcoming the night, singing in this way

Because they were made to make this music.

The birds answer. The silence answers too:

I find myself sinking down into it,

Welcoming it, glad to have a good place

To sit, watch, listen, and to remember

My place in the world, the woods, in my home.

The sound of my eldest son’s voice calling

“Papa!” echoes through the cedars and oaks.

“Time for dinner!” I turn, and can see light,

Yellow in the warm windows, a glow that,

Set against the blue dimness of nightfall,

Makes me think of Heaven, and the best tales.

Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


34 Comments

  1. Joshua Keel

    Thanks, Andy. This is poetic and moving. You have inspired me to think in a new way about a lyric I’m writing. Now I’m going to write a prose meditation to stimulate my thinking.

  2. evie

    Gosh, Andrew. Beauty. Beauty made moreso by the fact that it was written in a wooded setting in actual pen on honest-to-goodness white paper.

  3. Tom Bubb

    That was really beautiful Andy. At first the paragraph breaks threw me off but after a bit I realized they helped me pay special attention to each new thought. Thanks for this. 🙂

  4. Marc

    Dude you are the man! I live in good ole MI and always tell my wife “if AP lived in our town we’d be friends.” funny huh?

    Anyways I can’t wait for your book. Thanks bro.

  5. Stephen

    (side note: Andrew, did you know your last two posts aren’t showing up on the home page? You have to click on “posts” next to your name to see them.)

  6. Mike

    “Dude you are the man! I live in good ole MI and always tell my wife “if AP lived in our town we’d be friends.” funny huh?”

    But….Do you have an “Andrew Peterson is my Friend” sticker?

  7. Mike

    When I too will be ancient and holy,
    And this wild place, redeemed, will sing with me.
    It will belong, I will belong, fully,
    Joyfully, to him who set us both free.

    At the River Holy, at the River Pure,
    At the River that washes all that we were before.
    (Andy Osenga)

    Sounds so much better to me than a mansion with a gold driveway.

  8. Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

    Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone. My appreciation for poetry is new, thanks to Wendell Berry, and I don’t have any idea what I’m doing, from an academic standpoint. I had to look up “enjambed”. The thing was written in prose, then I edited it down to its present form, adjusting words here and there to maintain the ten-syllable lines. I was thinking that this meant that it was iambic pentameter until I read about what iambic means, and before long I was enmeshed in an online poetry study. It was humbling to find that there’s so, so much more to it than the casual reader (or writer) realizes.

    Anyway, Allison–I’ve been reading a collection of Wendell Berry poems called Entries, and another, A Timbered Choir. I like his poetry because it’s not too vague for a bonehead like me to understand. I’m thrown by poetry that demands I know the rules before I play the game. Like his novels, Wendell’s poems are powerfully, quietly beautiful, but without feeling elitist or artsy-fartsy. (A technical term.)

    Stephen–The two posts you’re talking about are classified as “Everyday” in the tags, which keeps them from cluttering up this main page. It’s so that people linking to my blog from my website will see the everyday, sometimes goofy posts, but those won’t bump, say, Evie’s wonderful new post down a notch or two. Make sense? I’m open to suggestions, though, if that doesn’t seem like a good idea.

  9. Mike

    Hey Mike a Sticker? You have a sticker? Where can I get one? Do tell.

    I bought it at a concert where all Andy’s friends get theirs.:) I have it stuck on my guitar case which makes me look like I can play all his songs. In reality I can’t play guitar. Heck I can’t even play most of the chords he uses.

  10. lyndsay

    beautiful. absolutely beautiful. thank you so much! and you remind me that i simply must get some wendell berry novels – something i’ve been meaning to do for a year now – TODAY.

  11. Twila Sias

    Andrew, you are one of the richest men I know. Truly, your iceberg runs deep. Yes, I occasionally check in at The Rabbit Room for a dose of inspiration from an incredible writing crew. Initially, the poetry hooked me because of the structure–“Wow! He really knows what he’s doing!” But in only a few lines I sank into the blessing that is God’s gift to His children, via your heart. Love you, punkin…ts

  12. Mike

    At the River Holy, at the River Pure,
    At the River that (swallows) all that we were before.
    (Andy Osenga)

    Sorry, Oh Toeless Wonder

  13. Peter B

    Andrew, thank you for sharing your glimpse of glory in the peace and the stillness. For a minute I was there… and I truly needed that right now.

  14. Jenni

    This is completely inspiring. First, because your poetry (like all of your writing) is beautiful. Secondly, because I, too, love poetry, read it often, long to write it, but I don’t know if I “understand” it. I just need to see what comes out. And there is something lovely about writing with pen and paper – I agree. Oh – I own a few Wendell Berry books and I’ve read bits and pieces – he is amazing. But I need to read his books cover to cover. Soon.

  15. Allison

    Andy! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer (and for looking up my high-faluntin’ word.) I’ve always told my students the best way to be a better writer is just to read excellent examples of whatever it is you want to write….and you proved that! It’s only us asrtsy-fartsy literary types that ever take the time to learn the terms. 🙂

    I really need to read Wendell Berry, just stop whatever I’ve been reading and pick up Jayber Crow and then check out some poetry. Soon. (after I finish your books, of course!) 🙂

    Thanks for all the inspiration. I’m enjoying listening to the new songs on that Michael Card podcast.

  16. Peter B

    Hey Andrew, speaking of reflective prose… whatever happened to your Resurrection Week meditations from a year or so back? I really wanted to read through those again, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. They used to be in the Journal section of the old site, and I hope that doesn’t mean they’re gone forever…

  17. Melinda

    Hi Andrew — I was so blessed by your concert in Newton, KS a few weeks ago .. I was wondering if your “Resurrection Letters” / Easter writings are still posted anywhere? I remember reading them on your website last year (or a few years ago?), but I couldn’t find them there anymore..

    Thank you for so powerfully stewarding your gift for lyric and melody, and for continually challenging so many of your fellow believers! Know that you’re a blessing —

    Happy Easter!

  18. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Peter B. wrote:

    Hey Andrew, speaking of reflective prose… whatever happened to your Resurrection Week meditations from a year or so back?

    Melinda wrote:

    … I was wondering if your “Resurrection Letters” / Easter writings are still posted anywhere?

    Click here Peter B. and Melinda. Enjoy.

  19. Christopher Hopper

    Andrew,

    Thanks for sharing this. I just discovered you through the CSFF Blog Tour. I praise God for your life and your pursuit of using the arts to affect your generation. I share your loves of recording, performing and writing books, and have had a great time preparing my posts for the Tour this weekend; trust they help promote your wonderful work and lift up the name of Jesus.

    Big blessings on you and your family!

    CH

  20. John Baker

    Andrew,
    I was wondering if you was going to record the blood of Jesus song? The one about the widows oil, the leper’s river, and Elijah’s fire. Heard you perform it and have been waiting to hear it again. it was a very special song. Do you have the lyrics available yet? –john

  21. Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

    Andrew Peterson

    @andrew

    Welcome, Christopher, and thanks for the kind review. I’m glad you pushed through and read the book in spite of the redundant title. Did you really think that was an oversight? Hilarious.

    John, you can hear a live version of “All You’ll Ever Need” on Michael Card’s radio show, which you can listen to by following the link on my main website’s news blurb at http://www.andrew-peterson.com. Hopefully that’ll tide you over until the record comes out later this year. Be sure and sign up for the mailing list so we can let you know when it releases. Thanks!

    AP

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