Friday, June 5, 2009

Wendell Berry

Here are two poems by man named Wendell Berry. He is probably my all time favorite poet. He has also written in other forms, mostly novels and essays, but I think it safe to say he is best loved as a poet. At least by me. These poems were originally published in 1968 in a collection called "Openings". He is still alive and publishing today, but his primary occupation has always been farming. He continues to live and work in his native Kentucky and is 74 years old. I was fortunate enough to hear him in person once when I was in college, way back in the 80's.

The Want of Peace

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.
I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world 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 with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


talandisjr said...

Beautiful poems, Mike! Thanks for sharing. They speak to a theme I've been thinking a lot about lately- how to stop thinking so much and achieve more silience and stillness in life and "be here now" as they say.

Hope you're doing well!

Wish we could go out for a beer.

q9g2YSIbt_Vt2nisd83Fd6cqmMxnLWGvFmg- said...

Great poems. I believe I heard Wendell Berry last weekend on the Bob Edwards show, really interesting but wasn't able to catch too much. One topic was his emphasis on local government over larger more distant government. I appreciate the sentiment, but rather than any one ideological viewpoint, I think that often it's most important to have proper balance. For instance, since big box stores run roughshod over local governments when negotiating tax breaks or facilities, perhaps it would be better managed by a state government. Or multi-nationals playing one national government against another, may suggest other governance structures should rule. Anyway, I enjoyed listening to him

theswearingchef said...

The even more obscure ID above is from me, sorry about that. Growing pains in learing how to use OpenID, just so I can post on your blog Mike. Look forward to seeing you in Toronto!

theswearingchef said...

Regarding the "be here now" comment above: Jill Bolte Taylor, an IU nuroanatomist, had a debilitating stroke, and wrote about her experiences in "My Stroke of Insight." I heard her talk about how wonderful she felt as her now severly damaged left hemishpere was shutting down. She was lucky to survive, but one of the things that this experience has left her with is the ability to quiet her left hemisphere, "be here now," and enjoy the tranquility.