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Peace Of Wild Things

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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.

The poems of Wendell Berry invite us to stop, to think, to see the world around us, and to savour what is good. Here are consoling verses of hope and of healing; short, simple meditations on love, death, friendship, memory and belonging; luminous hymns to the land, the cycles of nature and the seasons as they ebb and flow. Here is the peace of wild things.

144 pages, Paperback

Published February 22, 2018

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About the author

Wendell Berry

227 books3,650 followers
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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5 stars
438 (55%)
4 stars
251 (31%)
3 stars
86 (10%)
2 stars
6 (<1%)
1 star
4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 90 reviews
Profile Image for Marie.
Author 1 book12 followers
March 23, 2018
It is there in the news for us to read: the sixth extinction, the shocking disappearance of birds and insects (up to 70% of birds have disappeared in France in just a decade; the insect population of Germany has suffered a 75% decline in less than three decades), the death of the last male northern white rhino, imminent agricultural collapse due to dropping soil quality, plastic-choked oceans, the renewed vogue for open-pit mining, the tar sands, over-fishing, the death of the coral reefs, the cutting down of trees in cities and of entire old-growth forests outside of them. The list could, and does, go on. And in response to all this havoc, this wreckage, this brave new world of constant, catastrophic and irredeemable loss, what have we? An ever-faster, ever more desperately spinning wheel of extraction, production and consumption. And poetry. The poetry, e.g., of Wendell Berry.

People have for a long time experienced the urge to replace what is lost in the physical, material world with words, to preserve on paper what is otherwise being consigned to the void. The very process of destruction generates nostalgia – and, in the right hands, poetry. Berry’s poetry is alternately a testimony to the harrowing of his (and our) world and an ardent invocation of that once and still-glimpsed world.

The peace of wild things was in him in the writing and it is in us in the reading. That is something.

Profile Image for Emma.
16 reviews
April 10, 2019
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least of sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and like down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of the wild things
who do not tax their lives with for thought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Profile Image for Brian Thomas.
24 reviews5 followers
March 12, 2020
This was the first book of poetry I ever finished. I loved it. I read and reread each poem at least twice, sometimes as many as five times. His poems are about the earth, having a sense of place, growing older, and the things we have lost as we moved from an agrarian life. I don't give five stars lightly.
Profile Image for Fern Adams.
788 reviews50 followers
June 22, 2022
I often think poems get better with each reread and that is definitely true for this book.
Profile Image for Iqra M..
526 reviews2 followers
February 1, 2020
Forgot to update my Goodreads but this was my last read of January.
This book was so beautifully written and strange. I've highlighted quite a lot of pages. I think I may have found my new favourite poet!
I'd like to know what goes in the mind of Wendell Berry. He is just so wonderfully weird and perceptive. I love his writing style so I will be diving into his other works soon!
Profile Image for Whit.
216 reviews1 follower
August 25, 2022
well that took a baseball bat to my heart ! i am in awe! staggering. i don’t really have words. Berry’s voice feels so distinct, there are echoes tho - Wordsworth, Thomas. He reminds me mostly of Gluck. Some new favourite poems.

This is a selected - shall be getting to genuine collections soon.

Profile Image for Harry.
48 reviews10 followers
April 6, 2020
This poignant collection of poems has a far more elegiac tone than I was expecting. Berry returns time and again to themes of loss and death, both human and environmental. Many of the poems are both lovenotes to and elegies for a kind of prelapsarian rural American Dream; a lost idyll worked by honest folk with hard-won old-time wisdom, living in harmony with nature and the seasons. Berry mourns the loss of this simpler, quieter time to the relentless advance of an uncaring, mechanised modern world.

Personally, the cynic in me questions whether the post-conquest Americas are a great example of human nobility, honesty and sustainable interaction with nature; I think the terminal decline on that continent in that regard started right about when the first Europeans stepped off their boats. Nevertheless, I get his point and the sentiment still resonates with me as someone who tries to live a simple, rural life and tread lightly on this planet.

I probably would've been more impressed if the last book of poetry I read wasn't Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, which was pretty much as close to perfection as nature poetry can be for me. I suppose it's not really a fair comparison, given that collection puts together Oliver's absolute best work cherrypicked from a career spanning almost half a century. Nevertheless, ultimately for me she is the superior nature poet.
Profile Image for Gretchen Ronnevik.
Author 1 book63 followers
June 8, 2021
Wendell Berry is one of my favorites, so a 5 star is not surprising. My husband asked if I’d leave this one on the coffee table in the porch for restful moments, so there it will stay awhile. A couple of favorites poems from here: “Below,” “Fall,” “Throwing Away the Mail,” “How to Be a Poet,” and “Another Descent” which I read aloud to my family who all enjoyed it immensely. My family all cross country skis as a passion, but we also farm full time. We will likely call Spring “the descent” moving forward.

Another Descent

Through the weeks of deep snow
we walked above the ground
on fallen sky, as though we did
not come of root and leaf, as though
we had only air and weather
for our difficult home.
But now
as March warms, and the rivulets
run like birdsong on the slopes,
and the branches of light sing in the hills,
slowly we return to earth.
Profile Image for David C Ward.
1,417 reviews21 followers
March 28, 2018
One of America’s foremost nature writers as well as a pioneering environmentalist and critic of modernity. Berry is the poet laureate of Appalachia, the yeoman farmer and of a specific kind of Jeffersonian or Thoreauvian individualism. These poems, taken from the span of his career, are not great poems but small acts of conscience and persistence against the iniquities and corruption of society. Respect.
Profile Image for Elliot Robson.
6 reviews
May 10, 2020
The beauty in this collection of poetry comes from the solace the author finds in the natural world. This isn’t wistful romanticism. Berry is very concerned with issues in his present day (there are poems against the Vietnam war), but emphasises the natural world as a sustaining force.

Loss is a big theme in this book. Berry doesn’t want to move on from what has been lost, or overcome the sadness. He is concerned with moving through loss, understanding it, and cherishing it.
Profile Image for Jo.
568 reviews13 followers
November 9, 2018
I have found Wendell Berry’s poetry recently and have absolutely fallen in love with his style of writing, the place he writes from and the things he rights about. It is balm for the soul, peace for the busy mind and takes me to a place where I remember what’s right in the world. This volume is particularly beautiful but I will read more.
24 reviews2 followers
September 4, 2019
A beautiful thoughtfull mind at work. Enjoy these with your coffee, aloud or quietly . Among the poems of hope, sorrow, future and past you will find a favourite to go back to and recite, to remember and feel at peace or one with nature.
Profile Image for Sara Brown.
44 reviews3 followers
February 14, 2020
Gorgeous, sad, and perfectly applicable to the anxiety-inducing state of the world. These poems will resonate with those who find solace in nature. Similar to Mary Oliver’s poems, but more fraught with the concerns of modern society.
Profile Image for Laura.
77 reviews
August 14, 2022
Wendell Berry has the unique ability to find and capture the beauty existing in perfectly average days, ordinary occurrences, and simple surroundings. My favorite poems in this collection are:
To my Children, Fearing for Them
The Sycamore
Anger Against Beasts
The Blue Robe
My very favorite line in the book is from the poem titled “How to be a Poet”:
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Profile Image for Katie Gibbs.
65 reviews96 followers
January 29, 2022
Just very lovely, mostly. I think the first poetry book I've started where I really wanted to keep reading one or two each day, and no more, but didn't get bored.
Profile Image for Flying Snow.
95 reviews26 followers
June 8, 2021

The Blue Robe (from Entries)

How joyful to be together, alone
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness
of mortals, who know themselves:
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,
old friend in the morning light,
beautiful in her blue robe!

XIV (from Sabbath Poems)

The team rests in shade at the edge
of the half-harrowed field, the first
warm morning of May. Wind breathes
over the worked ground, through maples
by the creek, moving every new leaf.
The stream sings quietly in passing.
Too late for frost, too early for flies,
the air carries only birdsong, the long
draft of wind through leaves. In this time
I could stay forever. In my wish
to stay forever, it stays forever,
But I must go. Mortal and obliged,
I shake off stillness, stand and go back
to the waiting field, unending rounds.

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.
Profile Image for Caroline.
206 reviews3 followers
March 21, 2020
Just the deepest sigh. Wendell’s Berry’s poems in this collection are all just a big ole sigh. They help me to breathe. They give perspective, they speak simplicity, they are seasonal, and they are a beautiful sigh of relief.
Profile Image for Donna .
131 reviews
November 14, 2020
Wise, gently profound, sometimes, quietly angry. Poems to read and re-read, to reflect upon and to live with.
Profile Image for Elwood.
93 reviews
January 20, 2023
Much of this work was wasted on me, but I especially liked:

First, it’s title The Peace of Wild Things,
"..wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief"

And second, these non-sequential lines from his two-page poem entitled Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.

1. So, friends, every day do something that won't compute.
2. Plant sequoias.
3. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
4. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction.
Profile Image for Jo McLean.
47 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2021
Absolutely wonderful: profound ruminations on the human and environmental cost of capitalism, politics and technological progress. Haiku-esque in style - snapshots of time and thought preserved in words. Echoes of Blake and Frost 💕
Profile Image for Owen Cottom.
70 reviews
June 5, 2022
This is the first book of poetry I have ever read cover to cover. And it’s beautiful. Weighty words that cause you to slow down, ponder and unearth meaning in the everyday things and people around us that we do easily take for granted. One of the books of the year so far for me.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
19 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2022
I am in awe at his words. A collection of poems I will begin to reread even more slowly than before, breathing in peace, the natural rhythm of life, and an appreciation for the small things and the diversity of seasons. Such depth of meaning is held in his words, I cannot wait to let their meaning sink in again.

Wise and realistic yet unapologetically and naturally hopeful.

Sabbath Poems XXIV:
"And yet the light comes.
And yet the light is here.
Over the long shadows
the late light moves
in beauty through the living woods."
Profile Image for Aeromama.
85 reviews
February 27, 2023
Entertaining: 6/10
Transformative: 6/10

I love Berry's other writing more than I love his poetry. But I suspect that I will enjoy his poetry more as I get older. It has fewer hard edges and more comforting swathes than my favorite poets of the moment. I guess we'll see.
Profile Image for Leah.
192 reviews27 followers
November 15, 2022
Surprise, surprise...yet another collection of Wendell Berry's is marked as five stars by yours truly. (It's getting less surprising as more years pass.)

In all seriousness, this collection is so very lovely. Berry's words never fail to hit the parts of my tender heart that ache for the broken world. And yet, amidst his blunt honesty, he sprinkles in such rich beauty from his observations of nature, human relationship, and the simplicity of learning from hands-on work we do as living beings in this universe.

I'd highly recommend this collection to all.
8 reviews1 follower
November 27, 2022
“There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and descrated places.”

And this book is a sacred place.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 90 reviews

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