Poetry Monday: The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
Today’s selection comes from Wendell Berry; poet, novelist, essayist, man of letters, and gentleman farmer. Some might even say a prophet. Born in 1934 in Kentucky, he still continues to work the same land his family has worked for centuries.
I love the simplicity of Wendell Berry’s poetry. It reminds me of my own (no, I’m not suggesting I have a fraction of his talent). He brings me to tears, sometimes for his melancholy writings and others for how naturally (and optimistically) he describes of the beauty around him. I read in his book, The Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 that Berry would walk around his Kentucky home alone on the Sabbath to meditate and write. I find that much of my own writing and reflection happens not when I’m away in nature, but when I find nature in the midst of my urban [home]surroundings.
This poem describes the sadness I often experience when I contemplate the the state of our world, and the world in which we are leaving our beautiful children and grandchildren. And the peace I find in the small and wild things–the papery petals of fleeting summer poppies, the
carpenter mason bee that makes a home in the soil beneath my purple coneflower, the steady drip of water from a redwood tree’s needles to the forest floor–where I am able to center myself and remember all of the goodness this world has to offer. It is in the simplicity and the complexity of nature that I am invigorated and inspired to press forward, as we LDS like to say.
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.