Saturday, January 22


Wendell Berry is a well-regarded, Kentucky-born poet, whose poetry was introduced to me by my mother-in-law some years back, herself a Kentucky native and, in recent years, a resident of Kentucky again. We share in a love of literature. While visiting her over the Christmas holidays our conversation turned to Wendell Berry and she reached for a volume of his poems from her bookshelves and suggested I read her favorite poem of his. Since the previous post on the poetry of Emily Dickinson has put me in this frame of mind, I thought I would share with you what Jean shared with me -- a lovely poem in which an essential optimism springs forth from an abiding love of nature:


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

This poem can be found on page 30 of The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, published by Counterpoint (a member of the Perseus Books Group), 1998. It's also published on page 426 of Good Poems, an anthology of poetry selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor, published by Viking Penguin, 2002.