Wendell Berry

POETRY: The Wild Rose by Wendell Berry

October 10, 2018

Sometimes hidden from me in daily custom and in trust, so that I live by you unaware as by the beating of my heart, suddenly you flare in my sight, a wild rose blooming at the edge of thicket, grace and light where yesterday was only shade, and once more I am blessed, choosing again what I chose [...]

POETRY: Our Christmas Tree by Wendell Berry

December 27, 2017

Our Christmas tree is not electrified, is not covered with little lights calling attention to themselves (we have had enough of little lights calling attention to themselves). Our tree is a cedar cut here, one of the fragrances of our place, hung with painted cones and paper stars folded long ago to praise our tree, Christ come into the [...]

POETRY: A Warning To My Readers by Wendell Berry

July 26, 2017

Do not think me gentle because I speak in praise of gentleness, or elegant because I honor the grace that keeps this world. I am a man crude as any, gross of speech, intolerant, stubborn, angry, full of fits and furies. That I may have spoken well at times, is not natural. A wonder is what it [...]

POETRY: The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union by Wendell Berry

July 22, 2017

From the union of power and money From the union of power and secrecy, From the union of government and science, From the union of government and art, From the union of science and money, From the union of genius and war, From the union of outer space and inner vacuity, The Mad Farmer walks quietly away. There is only one of him, but he goes. He returns to the small country he calls home, His own nation small enough to walk across. He goes shadowy into the local woods, And brightly into the local meadows and croplands. He goes to the care of neighbors, He goes into the care of neighbors. He goes to the potluck supper, a dish From each house for the hunger of every house. He goes into the quiet of early mornings Of days when he is not going [...]

POETRY: A Purification by Wendell Berry

July 16, 2017

At start of spring I open a trench in the ground. I put into it the winter’s accumulation of paper, pages I do not want to read again, useless words, fragments, errors. And I put into it the contents of the outhouse: light of the sun, growth of the ground, finished with one of their journeys. To the sky, to the wind, then, and to the faithful trees, I confess my sins: that I have not been happy enough, considering my good luck; have listened to too much noise; have been inattentive to wonders; have lusted after praise. And then upon the gathered refuse of mind and body, I close the trench, folding shut again the dark, the deathless earth. Beneath that seal the old escapes into the [...]

POETRY: Anglo-Saxon Protestant Heterosexual Men by Wendell Berry

July 5, 2017

Come, dear brothers, let us cheerfully acknowledge that we are the last hope of the world, for we have no excuses, nobody to blame but ourselves. Who is going to sit at our feet and listen while we bewail our historical sufferings? Who will ever believe that we also have wept in the night with repressed longing to become our real selves? Who will stand forth and proclaim that we have virtues and talents peculiar to our category? Nobody, and that is good. For here we are at last with our real selves in the real world. Therefore, let us quiet our hearts, my brothers, and settle down for a change to picking up after ourselves and a few centuries of honest [...]

POETRY: The Silence by Wendell Berry

July 1, 2017

Though the air is full of singing my head is loud with the labor of words. Though the season is rich with fruit, my tongue hungers for the sweet of speech. Though the beech is golden I cannot stand beside it mute, but must say “It is golden,” while the leaves stir and fall with a sound that is not a name. It is in the silence that my hope is, and my aim. A song whose lines I cannot make or sing sounds men’s silence like a root. Let me say and not mourn: the world lives in the death of speech and sings [...]

POETRY: The Slip by Wendell Berry

June 25, 2017

The river takes the land, and leaves nothing. Where the great slip gave way in the bank and an acre disappeared, all human plans dissolve. An aweful clarification occurs where a place was. Its memory breaks from what is known now, and begins to drift. Where cattle grazed and trees stood, emptiness widens the air for birdflight, wind, and rain. As before the beginning, nothing is there. Human wrong is in the cause, human ruin in the effect—but no matter; all will be lost, no matter the reason. Nothing, having arrived, will stay. The earth, even, is like a flower, so soon passeth it away. And yet this nothing is the seed of all—heaven’s clear eye, where all the worlds appear. Where the imperfect has departed, the perfect begins its [...]

POETRY: A Letter, by Wendell Berry

June 14, 2017

(to Ed McClanahan) Dear Ed, I dreamed that you and I were sent to Hell. The place we went to was not fiery or cold, was not Dante’s Hell or Milton’s, but was, even so, as true a Hell as any. It was a place unalterably public in which crowds of people were rushing in weary frenzy this way and that, as when classes change in a university or at quitting time in a city street, except that this place was wider far than we could see, and the crowd as large as the place. In that crowd every one was alone. Every one was hurrying. Nobody was sitting down. Nobody was standing around. All were rushing so uniformly in every direction, so uniformly frantic, that to average them would have stood them still. It was a place deeply disturbed. [...]

POETRY: Look It Over by Wendell Berry

June 10, 2017

I leave behind even my walking stick. My knife is in my pocket, but that I have forgot. I bring no car, no cell phone, no computer, no camera, no CD player, no fax, no TV, not even a book. I go into the woods. I sit on a log provided at no cost. It is the earth I’ve come to, the earth itself, sadly abused by the stupidity only humans are capable of but, as ever, itself. Free. A bargain! Get it while it [...]

POETRY: Sabbath Poem X, 1979 by Wendell Berry

April 5, 2017

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, and finds it [...]

POETRY: Some Further Words by Wendell Berry

June 24, 2016

Let me be plain with you, dear reader. I am an old-fashioned man. I like the world of nature despite its mortal dangers. I like the domestic world of humans, so long as it pays its debts to the natural world, and keeps its bounds. I like the promise of Heaven. My purpose is a language that can pay just thanks and honor for those gifts, a tongue set free from fashionable lies. Neither this world nor any of its places is an “environment.” And a house for sale is not a “home.” Economics is not “science,” nor “information” knowledge. A knave with a degree is a knave. A fool in a public office is not a “leader.” A rich thief is a thief. And the ghost of Arthur Moore, who taught me [...]

POETRY: A Homecoming by Wendell Berry

April 22, 2015

One faith is bondage. Two are free. In the trust of old love, cultivation shows a dark and graceful wilderness at its heart. Wild in that wilderness, we roam the distance of our faith; safe beyond the bounds of what we know. O love, open. Show me my country. Take me [...]

POETRY: The Peace Of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry

January 21, 2014

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 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 [...]

POETRY: Sunday Meditations, by Wendell Berry

September 18, 2013

1981 — I Here where the world is being made, No human hand required, A man may come, somewhat afraid Always, and somewhat tired, For he comes ignorant and alone From work and worry of A human place, in soul and bone The ache of human love. He may come and be still, not go Toward any chosen aim Or stay for what he thinks is so. Setting aside his claim On all things fallen in his plight, His mind may move with leaves, Wind-shaken, in and out of light, And live as the light lives, And live as the Creation sings In covert, two clear notes, And waits; then two clear answerings Come from more distant throats— May live a while with light, shaking In high leaves, or delayed In halts of song, submit to making, The shape of what is made. 1982 [...]

PRAYER: Prayers For The Healing Of The Earth

June 24, 2013

U. N. Environmental Sabbath Program We join with the Earth and with each other. To bring new life to the land To restore the waters To refresh the air We join with the earth and with each other. To renew the forests To care for the plants To protect the creatures We join with the Earth and with each other. To celebrate the seas To rejoice in the sunlight To sing the song of the stars We join with the Earth and with each other. To recreate the human community To promote justice and peace To remember our children We join with the Earth and with each other. We join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery: for the healing of the Earth and the renewal of all life. Nancy Wood My help is in the mountain Where I take [...]

POETRY: Enemies, by Wendell Berry

October 17, 2012

If you are not to become a monster, you must care what they think. If you care what they think, how will you not hate them, and so become a monster of the opposite kind? From where then is love to come—love for your enemy that is the way of liberty? From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go free of you, and you of them; they are to you as sunlight on a green branch. You must not think of them again, except as monsters like yourself, pitiable because [...]

POETRY: Sabbaths 2005, by Wendell Berry

August 22, 2012

I. I know that I have life only insofar as I have love. I have no love except it come from Thee. Help me, please, to carry this candle against the wind. II. They gather like an ancestry in the centuries behind us: the killed by violence, the dead in war, the “acceptable losses” — killed by custom in self-defense, by way of correction, as revenge, for love of God, for the glory of the world, for peace; killed for pride, lust, envy, anger, covetousness, gluttony, sloth, and fun. The strewn carcasses cease to feed even the flies, the stench passes from them, the earth folds in the bones like salt in a batter. And we have learned nothing. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you” [...]