Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Toad's Favo(u)rite - Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair of 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.

Hello my garden of toads, Margaret here and it is my turn to highlight a favourite poem and poet of mine - someone I have just recently "found".  I have a feeling a few of you might know him quite well.

Mr. Wendell Berry, when he is not writing,  is a farmer.   He is also an environmental visionary, a determined man of strong words, of action, but not a violent man, nor a man who is afraid to join a protest and be a part of civil disobedience as he neared the age of 80.

HERE is an interview he agreed to do recently.   Please, try and find a 30 minute slice of time to watch this video.  If you can't connect with this link, google it and find it.  (PBS - interview by Bill Moyers)

He also reads the poem above at the marker 20:15.  A pure joy to hear it in his voice.

HERE is a link to a little over 30 of his poems.  I have taken the liberty to print three poems here as they were very easy to find in various places on the internet.  (I will take them off if requested to do so)

One (of so many) poems of Wendell Berry's that I just want to sink into is "Marriage".

Marriage (to Tanya)
by Wendell Berry

How hard it is for me, who live
in the excitement of women
and have the desire for them
in my mouth like salt.  Yet
you have taken me and quieted me.
You have been such light to me
that other women have been
your shadows.  You come near me
with the nearness of sleep.
And yet I am not quiet.
It is to be broken.  It is to be
torn open.  It is not to be
reached and come to rest in
ever.  I turn against you,
I break from you, I turn to you.
We hurt, and are hurt,
and have each other for healing.
It is healing.  It is never whole.

Some of you may be surprised I admire Wendell Berry as I am quite conservative politically. But this issue of sustainable agriculture should not be "political".  I buy as much as I can from local farmers.  I worry about big corporations doing everything for more and more profit -  the "by any means" mentality of the big corporations and their influence on our elected officials.   I am not anti-capitalist, far from it, but listening to Wendell Berry speak in the above interview, to my ears, to my heart, makes a lot of common sense.   And his poems tell me he does what he does for love.  What do you think?

(for Gurney Norman, quoting him)
by Wendell Berry

The woods is shining this morning.
Red, gold and green, the leaves
lie on the ground, or fall,
or hang full of light in the air still.
Perfect in its rise and in its fall, it takes
the place it has been coming to forever.
It has not hastened here, or lagged.
See how surely it has sought itself,
its roots passing lordly through the earth.
See how without confusion it is
all that it is, and how flawless
its grace is.  Running or walking, the way
is the same.  Be still.  Be still.
"He moves your bones, and the way is clear."

I recently purchased two of Wendell Berry's books:  "Wendell Berry, New Collected Poems", and "This Day - Collected & New Sabbath Poems".   They haven't left my side ( I have a big purse) and I am continuously inspired by them.   HERE is a website with a few of his books - I don't see the ones I purchased though.

In the linked PBS interview above, Mr. Berry says "… We don't have a right to ask if whether we are going to succeed or not, the only question we have a right to ask is what is the right thing to do.  What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?"

It is a great question we should each ask ourselves.


Fireblossom said...

"You have been such light to me
that other women have been
your shadows." Wow!!! Why didn't I think to write that?

Wonderful choice and post, Margaret. And yes, when I saw that someone had chosen Wendell Berry, I was interested to see who. I have a book of his called "The Memory Of Old Jack", but I haven't read it yet. Now I'm wondering why not.

Karen said...

Lovely! I do not know his work, but I will now. Thank you, Margaret.

Susan said...

For a conservative, you are full of surprises! I adore Wendell Berry's poetry, and thank you for all the resources you gather here. "The Peace of Wild Things" has a permanent place on my blog. And I always look forward to your poems, prompts, and comments.

Kerry O'Connor said...

You have introduced me to a new poet, today, Margaret and I thank you for it. I find an immediate concord with his style and themes. Your photography adds another level of enjoyment to this post.

Maude Lynn said...

I love his work, Margaret. Just exquisite.

Helen said...

As I read 'The Peace of Wild Things' ... I felt at peace, calmed. Thank you for sharing .. I did not know this poet.

hedgewitch said...

Wendell Berry is an old companion of mine, Margaret. One of his many great gifts is that he speaks to something within us that is ancient, true, and completely independent of games. I first read him in the Last Whole Earth Catalog, and he hasn't changed a particle, unlike so many of us from that ill-fated generation. Wonderful to see that interview, and to see him featured today. Many thanks.

Kay L. Davies said...

What a wonderful new favorite you have here, Margaret. Anyone who can see the great worth of Wendell Berry can also see beyond the political to the essential, as the quotation from the PBS interview shows. Politicizing the survival of our planet is not only unfair to the people, it is unfair to the planet and every form of life thereon.

Marian said...

oooooh Wendell Berry. i don't know, Margaret, it would never have occurred to me to question how or why you are moved by his words (or anyone else's). the poems of his you've shared today are incredible. i was unfamiliar with "Marriage" but what could be more perfectly expressed? whoosh. he's a national treasure so far as i'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

Was not familiar with his poetry, so am glad you've highlighted it here, Margaret.

And you're right, sustainable agriculture shouldn't be political (though it is).

To paraphrase the bumper sticker, "In our grandparent's era, Organic Produce was called Produce."

Susie Clevenger said...

What a wonderful choice Margaret. "We hurt, and are hurt, and have each other for healing. It is healing. It is never whole." Such truth. What an amazing poet. I wasn't familiar with Wendell Berry.

Herotomost said...

Stunning all the way around....thanks for sharing , I had never read anything by this author and its nice to find someone new.

Grace said...

Thanks for the sharing his lovely work Margaret ~ Will check out the interview and links ~ The poems you have highlighted just moved me ~

Ella said...

Margaret, thank you so much~ He is a new voice for me, also. I loved the Marriage poem-the movement so evokes the ebb n' flow of any union~ Powerful! Wonderful choice
Thank you~

Hannah said...

Your poem and photo choice for the opening of this post are SUCH a delight (as are the rest but wow!)I'm so grateful for the introduction and the link to the interview, (that I'm def going to watch, love Bill Moyers). I love the image in my mind of you with an over sized purse just brimming of poetry!! Hugs, Margaret!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Margaret, this is marvellous, all of it. Sorry to be late discovering it, my life is ridonkulous right now. Your photo is so beautiful, simply amazing. Peace of Wild Things is one of my favourite poems, and Marriage...? well, I just wish it had happened to me like that. You did a great job with this, and thank you for highlighting such a wonderful poet. I will watch that clip when I get some time, will be interested in his wisdom.