Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Given” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  372 ratings  ·  40 reviews
For five decades Wendell Berry has been a poet of great clarity and purpose. He is an award-winning writer whose imagination is grounded by the pastures of his chosen place and the rooms and porches of his family's home. In Given — his first collection of new poems in ten years now in paperback — the work is as rich and varied as ever before. With his unmistakable voice as ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Counterpoint (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Given, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Given

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 681)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill---more of each
than you have---inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgement.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
I know for a while again the health of self forgetfullness, looking out at the sky through a notch in the valley side, the black woods wintry on the hills, small clouds at sunset passing across. And I know that this is one of the thresholds between earth and heaven, from which even I may step forth from my self and be free. Wendell Berry
Very good! Mr. Berry captures nature, life, and contemplation in his words and hands them out in little gifts.
I stumbled across this little book of poems while looking for Elizabeth Bishop’s poems, and forgot all about her. I think he helped me learn to love poetry. Just lovely... Images I loved most:
• “the soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass” In A Country Once Forested

• “our friend looks as he did/when we first knew him,/and until I wake I believe/ I will die of grief, for I know/ that this boy grew into a man/who was a faithful frien
Natalie Keller
When I first got into this book I thought it was genius, but as I read more and more, everything just started to sound the same. Berry is a talented poet, but his scope seems a bit limited. 3 stars.

There were a few true gems in here, though, and I've included them below:


I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wildflowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.


The question before me, now that I
am old,
Oswego Public Library District
Wendell Berry is a keen observer of people and nature. These poems are rich and varied as he includes political concerns, love poems, and a long series of “Sabbath Poems” that resulted from Berry's walks of meditation and observation. The gentle, strong, and wise voice of Wendell Berry is outspoken about his commitment to family and community as well as to the earth and her creatures. -GD

Click here to place a hold on Given .

Wendell Berry is a prolific author. Here is a link for a collection of e
Beautiful poems from Berry--their profundity can sneak up on you. This is my first collection of his poetry to read. I've enjoyed his essays and his fiction, the latter of which in particular tends toward a poetic quality-his language will simply sing at key moments. This collection covers all manner of topics, but those familiar to Berry won't be surprised to find a heavy dose of politics, religion, and most of all, the land.
Jan 05, 2010 Leah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Leah by: Viluna Jennings
My dance instructor lent me this book after having the class improv to a couple of Wendell Berry's poems. I enjoy poetry, but don't typically read very much of it, so it was nice to read this in between some of the other books I've been working on.

Berry heavily employs nature themes (he apparently composes his 'sabbath' poems alone in the woods on Sundays, and lives and farms in Kentucky) and I found his style to be very elegant and descriptive. Not the best poetry I've ever read, but there wer
Oct 12, 2014 S.B. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
There is one poem I particularly like in this collection called Some Further Words. The last half of the book really put a damper on any enjoyment I can recall from reading this book.

I think the issues of "identity" mostly / are poppycock. We are what we have done, / which includes our promises, includes / our hopes, but promises first.

Each one who speaks speaks / as a convocation. We live as councils / of ghosts. It is not "human genius" / that makes us human, but an old love, / an old intelli
There were a few moments that stood out to me from this collection:

From In a country once forested:
"Under the pavement the soil/is dreaming of grass."

& from How to be a Poet:
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

From the Sabbaths
How we understand the interactions of our past differently as we age:
"An old man's mind is a graveyard/where the dead arise."

The Acadian flycatcher -
His back is the color of a leaf
in shadow, his belly that
of a leaf in light.
Carol Kuniholm
I find this slight volume of poetry restful, amusing, sometimes challenging. I've gone back to different poems in different moods and always find something new to puzzle over or laugh at.

A favorite when I was a youth leader:

Head like a big
frequently thumped
and still not ripe.

And a favorite on a summer day like today:

Why all the embarrassment
about being happy?
Sometimes I'm as happy
as a sleeping dog,
and for the same reasons,
and for others.
Artemisia Hunt
Wendell Berry's poems are as thought provoking as his essays.....and always filled with the simple beauties of nature and of the human spirit in nature.
Whatever words of praise that I could pour upon this book would pale next to the grace, wisdom and weight of Berry's verse. Reverence for the land and nature. Outright rejection of war, waste, greed & technological determinism. Humility, and a true appreciation of the gift (and burden) of love. All are here. Simply stunning. I may not ever travel without this book.
Dec 10, 2012 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Berry is so seriously attentive to the natural world around him, that it isn't a surprise when that connection breaks out into tangible anger with the plundering and despoiling of the created order for the cause of convenience, comfort and possession. It's not surprising, but this is his first poetry I've read that went in that direction.
I might argue that Wendell Berry is our national conscience in that he reminds us of what we do not pay attention to every day but what we live and live with. This collection of poems for instance has carries the theme of silence throughout - one of his poems was read at my Uncle's funeral and at my wedding. He is without a doubt friend.
Natalie Patton
While I did not finish this book of poems, I did find myself gasping aloud and thinking so hard my brain felt dizzy while reading this book.
Wendell Berry is a classic, a man I will continue to read for the rest of my life. Dear natalie, own a book of Berry's poetry at some point in your life and carry it with you every where you go.
Sep 30, 2007 Al rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: alltimefavorites
A favorite author/poet of mine. This is a man I would love to live and learn under. He has wisdom beyond his years and a life worth living. This set of poems will grab you, hold you, and tell you that you are loved. Read with a hot cup of tea during winter or fall. He is amazing.
Berry tends to be idealistic about nature but balances out the idealism with a few poems that have take seriously the emotional dilemmas of life. Sometimes his wonder of nature gets monotonous but the book is worth owning for the jewels that Berry consistently gives the reader.
James Sweeting
Been looking for a while for a book that calms me down before I drift off to sleep. This one is perfect and WB's poems helped me make the transition from my fast paced, stressful, overly stimulated day, to the much desired rest and relaxation I need. I hope to read more soon.
As expected from Berry, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful collection. I give the volume four stars because--and only sometimes--Berry's personal philosophies compromise the language and art of his poetry. The Sabbath poems (Part IV) are the the most spectacular in the collection.
Confession: I was/am an english major who didn't/doesn't like poetry.

That said, my praise is based on nothing more technical than the fact that Berry's poems seemed sweet, rich, earthy, contemplative... and ACCESSIBLE. I love reading this before bed.
I received this book as a wedding gift, and have been reading it in tiny doses in an effort to make it last longer. The taste of peace and an earthly perspective on holiness is still fresh in my mouth.
I love the words arranged in this book.
Jul 26, 2011 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Wendell Berry is swiftly gaining purchase among the ranks of my literary heroes.

Some favorites in this collection:
"In Art Rowanberry's Barn," "How to be a Poet," "Some Further Words," "Original Sin."
An excellent book of poems. The come in all sizes in this book...short, medium and long. A little something for everyone. I seem to be always reading this book for the last three years at least.
Sep 21, 2008 Aubrey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Aubrey by: Mandy
Life simple and delicate,worth
silently fighting for
through language of the
beasts and vegetation.

(My attempt to summarize the beauty in his poetry. I need more to satisfy my hunger.)

Dec 13, 2008 Julia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of poetry
Shelves: poetry
I've always loved Berry's work and his devotion to both writing and farming the land. This slim volume came out in 2004 and has his trademark sensitivity toward the natural world.
Anna Cate
I mistook your white head for a flower
down there among the tall grasses
and flowers of the garden border.
And then I knew you, your years
upon you like a crown of glory.
Lot of poems on nature, really nice poetry. He has a section on sabbaths where he walked every Sunday and communed with nature, great poems!
Pastoral, simple, lovely. Poems of the earth for people of the earth. Reading this made me feel calm and awake to my surroundings.
I think Berry is underrated as a poet. Glad his stuff like Given is out there for all to enjoy.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Red Bird
  • Selected Poems
  • The Heart of the Family (Eliots of Damerosehay, #3)
  • The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle
  • Astonishments: Selected Poems
  • Picnic, Lightning
  • Sinners Welcome
  • Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World
  • Tickets for a Prayer Wheel: Poems
Wendell Berry is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English and poet. He was born August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky where he now lives on a farm. The New York Times has called Berry the "prophet of rural America."
More about Wendell Berry...
Jayber Crow Hannah Coulter The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture The Collected Poems, 1957-1982 Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eight Essays

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” 99 likes
“How to be a Poet (to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill-more of each
than you have-inspiration
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity…

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are so unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.”
More quotes…