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A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
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A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,074 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
For nearly twenty years Wendell Berry has often spent his Sunday mornings in a kind of walking meditation, observing the world and composing poetry. As he writes in his foreword, "These poems were written in silence, in solitude, mainly out of doors." He asks that they be read in the same manner. If it's an unusual wish, it proves unusually rewarding.
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published December 1st 1971 by Counterpoint LLC
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Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I don't always "get" poetry, but many of these spoke to me. Here is one that I read over and over again:

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, an
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Berry's poems are fraught with the imagery of a planet and a livelihood under siege by modern society. However, they are also filled with moments of light and love for others and for the divine. Some of these poems leap from the page into your heart and mind, others require a deeper introspection but are worthy of it. If you can't find something to like, try reading it again.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read somewhere that Wendell Berry thinks of himself as an “amateur poet.” I haven’t heard anything so ridiculously funny in a while. And I am afraid his politics and decision to be a full time farmer instead of a university professor might have suppressed the best poetry that was ever written. Where are the accolades? This poetry is so beautiful, accessible, important, spiritual, realistic, holy, religious, non religious, lyrical, everything. The poems are technically and lyrically brilliant, ...more
May 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Leslie Norris said he wished he could write a Sabbath poem akin to Berry. Hear, hear! Heart and soul and earth and sky words to be savored under blankets of stars, smell of pine, babbling of brook and feel of red rock warmth. Oh so pretty and oh so keen personal journey of all the soul faces in surrendering to simplicity as well as cultural commentary on how the west was "won". Decades of inspiration and change one Sunday at a time. Both uplifting and slightly angry making at unwise land use pla
Stephen Hicks
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Berry's poetry that I have picked up. I was very pleased with what I found. I don't feel that I can rant and rave about this book not because what I found was of poor quality, but because Berry installs a sense of peace and tearfulness that epitomizes the meaning of the Sabbath. His poems are never fast-moving or action-packed; they are appreciative, observant, transcendent, and loving. I was very pleased with this collection. Mostly set around his life in nature and farm wo ...more
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who seek to tread the earth lightly
Shelves: poetry
I first discovered Wendell Berry when as an undergraduate at Southeastern University I recieved his poem "How to Be A Poet (to remind myself)" in my school mailbox as a gift from my advisor's wife, as I had recently presented Billy Collins to her freshmen composistion class. The poem has been on my bathroom mirror ever since, reminding me every morning of the virtues of silence, meditation, tranquility, and being present to ones surroundings. His poems seem to reflect his quest to practice these ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say about Wendell Berry? His writing, along with that of Thoreau, is about as close as I come to reading the bible. This books sits on my night stand and I often turn to it in the evening to quiet my mind or in the morning to provide perspective. Every poem is a prayer.
Wendell Berry makes me proud to be from KY.
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful! I could always be reading this book, circling back to the beginning as soon as I finished the last page, and continue to find surprises in the words and images and rhythms.
Ben DeVries
This collection of poetry really grew on me as I read through it. Many poignant reflections in it, which call my heart back to a simpler and more noble way of life ...
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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...
“Sabbaths, 1982—IV  
(“A gardener rises out of the ground”)

Thrush song, stream song, holy love
That flows through earthly forms and folds,
The song of Heaven’s Sabbath fleshed
In throat and ear, in stream and stone,
A grace living here as we live,
Move my mind now to that which holds
Things as they change.
The warmth has come.
The doors have opened. Flower and song
Embroider ground and air, lead me
Beside the healing field that waits;
Growth, death, and a restoring form
Of human use will make it well.
But I go on, beyond, higher
In the hill’s fold, forget the time
I come from and go to, recall
This grove left out of all account,
A place enclosed in song.
Now falls from thought. I go amazed
Into the maze of a design
That mind can follow but not know,
Apparent, plain, and yet unknown,
The outline lost in earth and sky.
What form wakens and rumples this?
Be still. A man who seems to be
A gardener rises out of the ground,
Stands like a tree, shakes off the dark,
The bluebells opening at his feet,
The light a figured cloth of song.”
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