Poetry Review: “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry

My first vacation in a year put us in a cabin in the woods without internet access of any kind. Since I have been transitioning to the cloud in most everything I do, I suddenly found myself without copies of things I have been working on: drafts of recent poems and short stories… and anything at all to do with MontanaWriter. That is one of the reasons that I was asleep at the switch when MontanaWriter went down.

Funny how wired we become without even knowing it. How dependent we have become on such a new technology.

I spent the vacation hiking, trout fishing, and reading Wendell Berry. I love Berry. His is the perfect kind of poetry to read on vacation, perfect for recharging the creative and spiritual batteries.

Critics compare Berry most often to Wordsworth. It seems like a good comparison. I would also suggest William Blake. Berry, like Blake, lives what he preaches: working with his hands, putting his money where his mouth is.

It is easy to have ideals. But it is hard to always live up to your ideals. Berry seems to me to be one of those rare individuals who does.

There is much to admire about Wendell Berry the idealist… there is even more to admire about Wendell Berry the poet.

Today’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things,” is one of my favorites. On a warm August day, it seems like just the thing.

Enjoy!

 

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.

 

 

Listening with a pencil and my ear, these are the lines I marked:

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.

I love these final lines. They are Wordsworthian… and also lines you could hear from Whitman. Berry’s poetry is closer to nature than probably any living poet. He is also one of the most unabashedly Christian. Maybe there is a connection?

 

 

 

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