Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Peace of Wild Things

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.

© Wendell Berry, from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry


  1. Thank you for sharing the poem, Stephen. I note that the poet is wise enough to qualify and quantify his "rest" and freedom: it is only "for a time." The "peace of wild things," however we might perceive it to be, is not part of humans' lives. Or is it? Can it be?

  2. Berry definitely believes that man belongs in relationship with the natural world; he's a deeply old-fashioned agrarian who despairs of the effects of industrialism on society at large and especially on agriculture. In his writings, ecological concern abounds, but he despises the word environment because of the implication that it is something different from us, something outside of us. For Berry, the health of people, society, and the natural world are all of one clothe, all part of the same natural order that we ignore to our peril.

    He's a very dear man, Berry.

  3. i'm with Berry: man is indeed inseparable from Nature; any other conclusion is madness(which currently defines human existence, pretty well); the tech and industry of the last 200 years is a flash in the pan, geologically speaking; did you ever see that program on PBS about what the world will look like in the future presuming the immediate demise of our species? an eye opener it is, yes....

  4. @ Mudpuddle: You should read 'The World Without' Us by Alan Weisman. I think it was the basis of the PBS program.

  5. This poem is one of my favourites and very timely. Thanks for sharing it!


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