Wendell Berry (born 1934)

Poetry on Peace

Wendell Berry:

The Peace of Wild Things
& Window Poems #19 (1968)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of 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 for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.



Peace. May he waken
not too late from his wraths
to find his window still
clear in its wall, and the world
there. Within things
there is peace, and at the end
of things. It is the mind
turned away from the world
that turns against it.
The armed Presidents stand
on deadly islands in the air,
overshadowing the crops.
Peace. Let men, who cannot be brothers
to themselves, be brothers
to mulleins and daisies
that have learned to live on the earth.
Let them understand the pride
of sycamores and thrushes
that receive the light gladly, and do not
think to illuminate themselves.
Let them know that the foxes and the owls
are joyous in their lives,
and their gayety is praise to the heavens,
and they do not raven with their minds.
In the night the devourer,
and in the morning all things
find the light a comfort.
Peace. The earth turns
against all living, in the end.
And when mind has not outraged
itself against its nature,
they die and become the place
they lived in. Peace to the bones
that walk in the sun toward death,
for they will come to it soon enough.
Let the phoebes return in spring
and build their nest of moss
in the porch rafters,
and in autumn let them depart.
Let the gardens be planted,
and let the frost come.
Peace to the porch and the garden.
Peace to the man in the window.

Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things" & "Window Poems"
Openings, Harcourt, Brace & World, NY, 1968, pp. 30, 53-54

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