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.
Critics and scholars have acknowledged Wendell Berry as a master of many literary genres, but whether he is writing poetry, fiction, or essays, his message is essentially the same: humans must learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth or perish (The Poetry Foundation).
One good place to find “The Peace of Wild Things” and other poetry by Wendell Berry is in The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.
The 100 poems in this collection were chosen by the author, selected from nine collections of his poetry, published between 1957 and 1996. Showing the development of Berry’s work over a period of four decades, the themes remain consistent — land and nature, family and community, and tradition as the foundation for life and culture.
The Selected Poems and more than 50 other works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by Berry are available on hoopla, which are available free to Marblehead residents with a library card. If you don’t have a card, find out how you can get one on the FAQ page.
Learn more about the history of Earth Day and how the celebration is going digital for 2020.
On the occasion of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary, we also recognize the Marblehead Conservancy’s commitment to protect and preserve spaces throughout the town where wild nature can be experienced and enjoyed by all of us.
Share your favorite nature photos on the Abbot Public Library’s Facebook page!