May 17 2019

Wendell Berry – The Peace of Wild Things

Published by at 7:11 am under Poetry

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

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.

— from Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, by Wendell Berry

/ Image by DeingeL /

Rereading my comments from a few years ago, I smile at the memory. A special moment, a special day…

My wife and I have been going for walks recently in an area called Roger’s Grove. The park has a small lake with a couple of islands at its center. It is a favorite spot for Canadian geese this time of year. As we stroll around the lake we sometimes see a gray heron standing in meditative stillness among the reeds along the banks. Most recently we noticed some new visitors: one and then two bright white pelicans, looking a bit awkward in form but moving with the grace of swans upon the lake’s surface.

Yesterday, we had an unexpected sight: Those two pelicans had become thirty pelicans! The lake was filled with the bright white beings! We walked around the lake in an awed daze. We watched as the birds paddled around the lake in groups, tacking together in their movements, like a synchronized drifting dance, all gliding to the left and then, with some unseen signal, all turning right again. They even dipped their heads beneath the water all at once, sometimes several times in a row, down and up and down and up, a quiet undulation rippling through the group. They seemed to revel in this sleepy synchronicity of movement beneath the warming sun.

It was a magical moment. A healing moment. An encounter with the peace of wild things.

That’s just it– these, like all living beings, experience struggle, trauma, death, yet they continue to reside in the present moment and celebrate the bliss of a sweet afternoon when it is upon them. And in this way wild things are teachers to us all.

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Recommended Books: Wendell Berry

The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982 Given: Poems Selected Poems of Wendell Berry A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 The Mad Farmer Poems
More Books >>

Wendell Berry, Wendell Berry poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Wendell Berry

US (1934 – )
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Wendell Berry

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Wendell Berry – The Peace of Wild Things”

  1. Olga T.on 17 May 2019 at 9:31 am

    W. Berry is one of my favorite poets. I love the way he takes a timeless idea and brings it to our time and place. The concept of not worrying about tomorrow (look at the birds) is the main theme of Matthew Chapter 6. Those of us who are city-birds and wake up in the middle of the night in angst, read a passage or two from a wisdom book which hopefully puts things in perspective, until the sun is up and the city awakens. How important are we really, compared to the rest of creation and evolution? Dust in the wind, just dust in the wind. Here is to us baby-boomers and to all those who might remember this song:
    p.s in case it can not be uploaded, it is “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.

  2. mystic meanderingon 17 May 2019 at 9:58 am

    Oh how beautiful! even as I envision it from your description of the Pelicans… “Connecting” with Nature is so healing, i know… I need to remember to get out there and experience that deep silence and peace of the natural world once again – and breathe… Thank you Ivan…

  3. Carol Burnson 18 May 2019 at 2:56 am

    I do love Wendell Berry and this poem is very special in these times. Thank you
    for honoring us with these poems, they mean so much.

  4. Elaon 18 May 2019 at 1:57 pm

    when these white angels
    splash colors of joy in harmony
    aha! soul gets lost

  5. Elaon 19 May 2019 at 12:06 pm

    let’s have a wild guess
    why not wild tax despair grieve
    neither search for peace

  6. Elaon 22 May 2019 at 7:09 am

    being wildly simple
    wilds needs are too limited
    to hoard to suffer

  7. Elaon 23 May 2019 at 7:35 am

    living present life
    wilds are countlessly blessed
    for true surrender

  8. Elaon 25 May 2019 at 4:50 am

    let’s protect all beings
    be human not gods not beasts
    awake realize

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