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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  533 Ratings  ·  60 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)
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Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
(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.
Annie Kate
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gospel
Beautiful, profound, and moving. Most modern poetry seems to be full of posturing, but this is genuine and full of goodness as well.

I have read some of these poems over and over and over, even to my family at the dinner table.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves God, nature, family, and words.
John Tessitore
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
When his work pops up in a magazine, it always seems restorative, a Thoreauvian plea to remember what matters. But in a collection like this one, it is clear that Berry's poetry is less an antidote for the modern world than a strident rejection. His husband-and-wife-in-the-wilderness fantasy is seductive in small doses. But as a running (nearly exclusive) theme, it is unforgiving and irresponsible, a refusal to address real people in real time, living in a world that is not of their own creation ...more
May 29, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Mike Phay
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel more whole when I read Wendell Berry.
More real. More alive. More aware of the world. More ashamed of my aloofness & technophility. More desiring of seeing, experiencing and being. I am thankful for him and this book of poetry - 'Given' - like a breath of life to places once dead.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very good! Mr. Berry captures nature, life, and contemplation in his words and hands them out in little gifts.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, reverent, honoring of nature and humanity and the God who created them. His simple style and careful, loving (but not sentimental) eye upon the world bring me to a sense of peace and rest, a sense of seeing more truthfully and carefully. As I read, my breathing slows and my appreciation for life grows. In particular, his Sabbath poems, and his writing about writing, moved and challenged me. I borrowed this volume from the local library, but will have to purchase it soon because these ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
The short blurb on the front- "For those who believe that life and the world are gifts, this is an invaluable book. - Booklist" is true. I enjoyed this collection, and I think it was a fitting introduction to Wendell Berry. His measured pace and tone throughout the collection was calming. Another reviewer here wrote that this book is gentle and peaceful- and I thoroughly agree.
Haley Banks
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it

This book makes me want to sit alone in silence and just be attentive to the world around me.

It's not especially profound, but it is very observant of nature and life and therein provokes a response.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though the words of Berry's poems only occassionally captured me with their beauty, the ideas and thoughts behind them -- of the power and joy to be found in nature and simplicity and of things that are important to say and notice about the world -- often resonated.

The most beautifully touching in this volume for me is "The Rejected Husband" and the most thought-provoking is "Some Further Words".
Natalie Keller
May 09, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Leah by: Viluna Jennings
Shelves: poetry
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
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
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
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Wes Hazard
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, spiritual
Hugely enjoyed my introduction to Berry's poetry. This "Sabbaths" concept is fascinating to me. His words are like the deepest kind of mental rest. It almost makes me want to retreat into the mountains and start a self-sustaining farm and cease to come into contact with any form of human life ever again......wait I wanted to do that already.
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, christian, peace
I read Wendell Berry's poems,
Like I read the Book of Psalms,
And they inspire me
The same way.
Tony Roberts
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing

" ... Nothing
Is given that is not
Taken, and nothing taken
That is not first a gift." ~ Wendell Berry

One cold winter night
Wind bitterly
Clashing into chimes.

Wondrous words
of a poet-prophet
In darkness heard.

Breath taken away is
A gift that remains
In light of day.

~ Tony Roberts
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2017
My first foray into Wendell Berry. While I loved many of his poems, they occasionally get into areas that I connect less with (mainly birds? and farming-related stuff). His Sabbaths series had a lot of rich reflections on the way the world is changing that sank deeply in my mind. Overall, I look forward to reading more.
Natalie Patton
Jul 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-art
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.
Apr 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
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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...

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“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” 163 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 no 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…