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Given

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  662 ratings  ·  80 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, 152 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Counterpoint LLC (first published 2005)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  662 ratings  ·  80 reviews


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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
Jasonlylescampbell
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. 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.
T
...more
Annie Kate
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.
Becky
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lot of nostalgia for being in nature, for farm life growing up, etc. Berry seems a bit idealistic in a lot of things, but there's some beautiful poetry here.
Cheryl
A reread, and a million treasures found, again.

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 th
...more
Sarah
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
...more
andrea
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.
...more
Timmy
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.
Anthony Stewart
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 (Random) Thoughts

-This is my first Wendell Berry read. This collection of poetry, "Given," is centered around his belief in the beauty of a simple life with a thematic connective tissue of gratitude for the natural and spiritual gifts of a life well-lived. I am a total poetry rube, so I will mostly share a few quotes that I loved. This was an excellent introduction to his work, and I will continue to read Berry.

-Perhaps the greatest poem in a strong collection is the piece "How to be a Poet."

"
...more
Mark Casper
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the first collection of Berry's poems I've ever read. To be honest, it's one of the first collections of poems I've read in general. Poetry can be tough. Obscure, opaque, difficult to understand.

But I love that a good poem forces you to slow down, to dig, to savor. It seems to me that Berry's poems (and poetry in general) are an antidote uniquely suited for the insanely-busy, instant-gratification world we live in now.

To quote that famous poem by William Blake, Berry is a master at see
...more
Heidi
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, poetry
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
Paul
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
On any given Sabbath,
the old man keeps his habit
of composing a farmer’s verse
against the industry’s curse.

—PH

Wendell Berry’s poetry is a curious oddity, a mixture of Tolkien Hobbit, Elf, and Man standing up quietly but defiantly to face Mordor’s hordes of goblins and orcs, Dark Lord Sauron’s malevolent forces, head-on with the contrapuntal and, alas, disappearing peace of wild things. Will the Ents rise in time, or is it already too late for Hobbiton and what lies beyond the Shire?
Autumn
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.
Mary
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gave-to-a-friend
I'm not a poetry person. This was a required reading for a class I'm taking. I was surprised how Berry's prose spoke directly to me and gave me inspiration on my journey … 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.
Robert Flannery
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
[excerpt]
He had the beauty only
of himself alive in the only moment of his life.
He had upon him like a light the whole
beauty of the living world that never dies.
[end excerpt]
Few poems are longer than a page. Yet, Berry sometimes opens the Open World, to great satisfaction!
Again and again.
Like the sun, he does not give up.
Snickerdoodle
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
He slows me down - reminds me of the pleasures of the earth, the importance of each human life. He's not just sharing his reflections on life though. Sometimes he's virtually shouting at us to pay attention to what's really important - for our nation, for our world, for our being. His poems are like prayers of thanksgiving.

We are Given so much from the beginning of the gift of Life.
Kurt Ronn
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, poetry
An incredible treasure. Natural beauty and wisdom.

This small book of poems was an Amazon recommendation. Maybe because I recently read Evidence by Mary Oliver? Regardless, Given is a great companion to Oliver and Billy Collins. His natural farmers view of nature and life is a gift. ill reread these poems regularly throughout life.
James
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've come to Wendell Berry late, but at just the right time. So much here. Much related to growing old and taking pleasure in every day. Many favorites. Here is one: "Why all the embarrassment about being happy? Sometimes I'm as happy as a sleeping dog, and for the same reasons, and for others."
Luke Thomas
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Berry's poetry is meditative, reflective, and particular - almost Franciscan. Although, at some points, Berry sacrifices form to get across his own political message or for lack of interest in the poetic properly. But ultimately, it's exactly what you would expect while having a basic familiarity with Berry and that's a good thing.
Mary Lynn
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Given it is a book full of simple, but beautiful poems by Wendell Berry. About half of them are from his Sabbath poems which result f rom his Sunday walks on his farm in Kentucky. He writes about marriage, the seasons, his neighbors, and what it is to be a poet.
Beth Casey
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Wendell Berry quotes frequently appear in books I've read. This is the first of his works the I have read. A book of poetry, Given speaks of love, family, nature and aging. The emotions and pictures Berry creates through words are, for me, impactful.
Haley Banks
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
BEAUTIFUL
Diane
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this man's writing. He is a life long environmentalist. His love writing is transforming.
Mugren Ohaly
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I enjoyed a couple poems, but the sabbaths take up most of the book and I didn’t like them at all.
R.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a few poems in here I quite like. I think Wendell Berry is at his poetic best when he is writing short simple haiku-esque images of nature.
Heather
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Berry could make me a fan of poetry.
Leonard
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A collection of fine poems by Berry.. A lot of these poems are about seeing and help the reader to observe the things, especially nature, around him.
Ellie
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Wendell Berry makes me think better things about Kentucky. He gives me hope for this state.
森ーん
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
WHY

Why all the embarrassment
about being happy?
Sometimes I’m as happy
as a sleeping dog,
and for the same reasons,
and for others.
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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."

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“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” 199 likes
“How to be a Poet

(to remind myself)

i

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…

ii

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.

iii

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.”
118 likes
More quotes…