the peace of wild things :: poems by wendell berry

yolo basin

Sometimes we need to slow ourselves down. Poetry does that for me…I think because it demands that I take time to sort it out. I can’t rush through the sentences, sure of what comes next. It requires pondering, just like nature. Wendell Berry is a poet, novelist, farmer, and an environmental activist. Here are some of his words, just for you.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Like the Water

Like the water
of a deep stream,
love is always too much.
We did not make it.
Though we drink till we burst,
we cannot have it all,
or want it all.
In its abundance
it survives our thirst.

In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill,
and sleep,
while it flows
through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us,
except we keep returning to its rich waters

We enter,
willing to die,
into the commonwealth of its joy.

What We Need is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.


More about Wendell Berry here: Wendell Berry Books, Bill Moyers segment on Berry’s hope for humanity, Good Reads, The New York Times.

Photo by Kim Tackett, Yolo Basin, Davis CA.

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