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

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21 comments on “The Peace of Wild Things

  1. This is one of my most favourite poems ever. And a huge consolation to me. “Resting in the grace of the world” – lovely.

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  2. Susan says:

    Simply beautiful. My, what a gift with words.
    Have a wonderful weekend, Bill

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  3. Joanna says:

    I agree with Susan, beautiful

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  4. shoreacres says:

    Learning to forego the taxing of life with forethought of grief isn’t precisely easy for humans. It’s good we have the wild things as models.

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    • Bill says:

      I used to have a lot of forethought of grief. Too much. There came a time when I just resolved to put that way of thinking behind me and my life is much better as a result. But a few months ago I had a powerful experience that might be a type of forethought of grief.

      I’m not much for meditation, but in the book Smell of the Sensuous I read about a technique that intrigued me and I’ve used it some. First I imagine an hourglass with sand slowly pouring through it. The top represents the past, the middle is the present and the bottom is the future. Then I imagine the hourglass slowly turning on its side—and the middle swells as the top and bottom fade away. Past and future merge into the present. When I do it I focus on this place–this farm–and all the lives that have been here before and are yet to come. I’ve found the experience to be peaceful and powerfully connecting to this place. But one morning when I was doing it, suddenly and unexpectedly I felt pain, death, conflict, old age. It even brought tears to my eyes. It wasn’t what I was expecting. “There is pain in the future,” I found myself saying. “Is it all dark?” I asked. “You decide,” is the answer I felt. I tried again and I sensed joy and peace—the birth of an animal, a good cup of coffee, a hug and a smile from Cherie. It caused me to think that the pain will be a few large shocking momentous things (that was the forethought of grief). The really spectacular once-in-a-lifetime joyous life events are probably in my past now. There will be plenty more joy, but the joy will be many small simple things. If I miss or fail to recognize and appreciate the little joys, I realized, then it will be all pain. A powerful lesson I think.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. bobraxton says:

    As a young boy in rural NC, I played “domesticating” (toy wagon roads and such) the “wild.” Now on a suburban lot where we moved / purchased 1984, my spouse has made a sign for about 1/10 or our space where we have a huge brush pile and 32 years of compost (huge), “Bob’s Wild Side”

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  6. I’m travelling home on a train after a day’s work. There are delays, and it’s crowded, noisy, and smelly. Wendell’s words have just transported me to the stone seat by my little pond with the newts in. Thank you.

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    • Bill says:

      Then that is the confirmation that sharing this poem was a good decision. I’ve been in the spot many times, and many times found comfort in words that transported me to someplace more peaceful. So glad the poem spoke to you.

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  7. I have never heard this poem before but love it now that I have. Thanks for sharing this Bill.

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  8. Dearest Bill,
    What indeed a beautiful and above all, a meaningful poem by Wendell Berry!
    Happy Sunday and hugs,
    Mariette

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  9. barnraised says:

    Oh, one of my absolute favorites. So beautiful.

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  10. One of my favourites, Bill. Wendell Berry is such a soulful writer.

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