“And our faces, my heart, brief as photos”: recollecting John Berger

After running across John Berger’s lines about poverty in our century in the context of a blog post on Haiti (cf my previous post), I was prompted to return to my favourite among Berger’s books, And our faces, my heart, brief as photos, first published in 1984.  This volume has been by my side in times of great sorrow.  It opens with the following poem.  

When I open my wallet  

to show my papers  

pay money  

or check the time of a train  

I look at your face.  


The flower’s pollen  

is older than the mountains  

Aravis is young  

as mountains go.  


The flower’s ovules  

will be seeding still  

when Aravis then aged  

is no more than a hill.  


The flower in the heart’s  

wallet, the force  

of what lives us  

outliving the mountain.  


And our faces, my heart, brief as photos.  

John Berger

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Death, History and historiography, Reading and writing

One response to ““And our faces, my heart, brief as photos”: recollecting John Berger

  1. Jharna

    A documentary for Berger n his fans:
    The Story of a river and those who wish to tie her down. 33 million people lost their homes, lands n livelihood on 8th Aug 2008 when the barrage on the river Kosi in North India, borderin Nepal broke, with the river changing it’s course by 250 kilometers. It was declared an international Calamity.
    This documentary was made with the view that such disasters do occur. And if they do then those responsible are not left without being punished and held accountable. It is meant for policy and decision makers across the world. Though it takes the example of Kosi yet it is a story of the attitude human beings have taken towards the planet and which communities are considered dispensable in the scheme of things.


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