Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

CreationEarth Nature Photos

Best Famous Wendell Berry Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Wendell Berry poems. This is a select list of the best famous Wendell Berry poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Wendell Berry poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Wendell Berry poems.

Search for the best famous Wendell Berry poems, articles about Wendell Berry poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Wendell Berry poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also:

Famous poems below this ad
Written by Wendell Berry |

Do not be ashamed

 You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
and suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly that you were about to escape, and that you are guilty: you misread the complex instructions, you are not a member, you lost your card or never had one.
And you will know that they have been there all along, their eyes on your letters and books, their hands in your pockets, their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful, they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed, reading the page they hold out to you, then such light as you have made in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them, only an inward clarity, unashamed, that they cannot reach.
Be ready.
When their light has picked you out and their questions are asked, say to them: "I am not ashamed.
" A sure horizon will come around you.
The heron will begin his evening flight from the hilltop.

Written by Wendell Berry |

The Real Work

 It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Written by Wendell Berry |

Like The Water

 Like the water
of a deep stream,
love is always too much.
We did not make it.
Though we drink till we burst, we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore to drink our fill, and sleep, while it flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning to its rich waters thirsty.
We enter, willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.

More great poems below...

Written by Wendell Berry |

For The Future

 Planting trees early in spring,
we make a place for birds to sing
in time to come.
How do we know? They are singing here now.
There is no other guarantee that singing will ever be.

Written by Wendell Berry |

What We Need Is Here

 Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes.
Abandon, as in love or sleep, holds them to their way, clear in the ancient faith: what we need is here.
And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye, clear.
What we need is here.

Written by Wendell Berry |

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.

Written by Wendell Berry |


 I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent there is singing around me.
Though I am dark there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy there is flight around me.

Written by Wendell Berry |

The Silence

 Though the air is full of singing
my head is loud
with the labor of words.
Though the season is rich with fruit, my tongue hungers for the sweet of speech.
Though the beech is golden I cannot stand beside it mute, but must say "It is golden," while the leaves stir and fall with a sound that is not a name.
It is in the silence that my hope is, and my aim.
A song whose lines I cannot make or sing sounds men's silence like a root.
Let me say and not mourn: the world lives in the death of speech and sings there.

Written by Wendell Berry |

In this World

 The hill pasture, an open place among the trees,
tilts into the valley.
The clovers and tall grasses are in bloom.
Along the foot of the hill dark floodwater moves down the river.
The sun sets.
Ahead of nightfall the birds sing.
I have climbed up to water the horses and now sit and rest, high on the hillside, letting the day gather and pass.
Below me cattle graze out across the wide fields of the bottomlands, slow and preoccupied as stars.
In this world men are making plans, wearing themselves out, spending their lives, in order to kill each other.

Written by Wendell Berry |

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

 Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay.
Want more of everything ready-made.
Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won't compute.
Love the Lord.
Love the world.
Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium.
Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit.
Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.
Listen to carrion -- put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth? Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade.
Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Written by Wendell Berry |

The Lilies

 Amid the gray trunks of ancient trees we found
the gay woodland lilies nodding on their stems,
frail and fair, so delicately balanced the air
held or moved them as it stood or moved.
The ground that slept beneath us woke in them and made a music of the light, as it had waked and sung in fragile things unnumbered years, and left their kind no less symmetrical and fair for all that time.
Does my land have the health of this, where nothing falls but into life?

Written by Wendell Berry |

The Wish to be Generous

 ALL that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age.
Let the world bring on me the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know my little light taken from me into the seed of the beginning and the end, so I may bow to mystery, and take my stand on the earth like a tree in a field, passing without haste or regret toward what will be, my life a patient willing descent into the grass.

Written by Wendell Berry |


 I was born in a drouth year.
That summer my mother waited in the house, enclosed in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind, for the men to come back in the evenings, bringing water from a distant spring.
veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.
And all my life I have dreaded the return of that year, sure that it still is somewhere, like a dead enemys soul.
Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me, and I am the faithful husband of the rain, I love the water of wells and springs and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.
I am a dry man whose thirst is praise of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup.
My sweetness is to wake in the night after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.

Written by Wendell Berry |


Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath Grows large and free in air, don't call it death -- A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire His surly art of imitating life; conspire Against him.
Say that my body cannot now Be improved upon; it has no fault to show To the sly cosmetician.
Say that my flesh Has a perfect compliance with the grass Truer than any it could have striven for.
You will recognize the earth in me, as before I wished to know it in myself: my earth That has been my care and faithful charge from birth, And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound, And all my hopes.
Say that I have found A good solution, and am on my way To the roots.
And say I have left my native clay At last, to be a traveler; that too will be so.
Traveler to where? Say you don't know.
But do not let your ignorance Of my spirit's whereabouts dismay You, or overwhelm your thoughts.
Be careful not to say Anything too final.
Whatever Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger Than flesh.
Beyond reach of thought Let imagination figure Your hope.
That will be generous To me and to yourselves.
Why settle For some know-it-all's despair When the dead may dance to the fiddle Hereafter, for all anybody knows? And remember that the Heavenly soil Need not be too rich to please One who was happy in Port Royal.
I may be already heading back, A new and better man, toward That town.
The thought's unreasonable, But so is life, thank the Lord! 3.
So treat me, even dead, As a man who has a place To go, and something to do.
Don't muck up my face With wax and powder and rouge As one would prettify An unalterable fact To give bitterness the lie.
Admit the native earth My body is and will be, Admit its freedom and Its changeability.
Dress me in the clothes I wore in the day's round.
Lay me in a wooden box.
Put the box in the ground.
Beneath this stone a Berry is planted In his home land, as he wanted.
He has come to the gathering of his kin, Among whom some were worthy men, Farmers mostly, who lived by hand, But one was a cobbler from Ireland, Another played the eternal fool By riding on a circus mule To be remembered in grateful laughter Longer than the rest.
After Doing that they had to do They are at ease here.
Let all of you Who yet for pain find force and voice Look on their peace, and rejoice.

Written by Wendell Berry |

Sabbaths 2001


He wakes in darkness.
All around are sounds of stones shifting, locks unlocking.
As if some one had lifted away a great weight, light falls on him.
He has been asleep or simply gone.
He has known a long suffering of himself, himself sharpen by the pain of his wound of separation he now no longer minds, for the pain is only himself now, grown small, become a little growing longing joy.
Something teaches him to rise, to stand and move out through the opening the light has made.
He stands on the green hilltop amid the cedars, the skewed stones, the earth all opened doors.
Half blind with light, he traces with a forefinger the moss-grown furrows of his name, hearing among the others one woman's cry.
She is crying and laughing, her voice a stream of silver he seems to see: "Oh William, honey, is it you? Oh!" II Surely it will be for this: the redbud pink, the wild plum white, yellow trout lilies in the morning light, the trees, the pastures turning green.
On the river, quiet at daybreak, the reflections of the trees, as in another world, lie across from shore to shore.
Yes, here is where they will come, the dead, when they rise from the grave.
III White dogwood flowers afloat in leafing woods untrouble my mind.
IV Ask the world to reveal its quietude— not the silence of machines when they are still, but the true quiet by which birdsongs, trees, bellows, snails, clouds, storms become what they are, and are nothing else.
V A mind that has confronted ruin for years Is half or more a ruined mind.
Nightmares Inhabit it, and daily evidence Of the clean country smeared for want of sense, Of freedom slack and dull among the free, Of faith subsumed in idiot luxury, And beauty beggared in the marketplace And clear-eyed wisdom bleary with dispraise.
VI Sit and be still until in the time of no rain you hear beneath the dry wind's commotion in the trees the sound of flowing water among the rocks, a stream unheard before, and you are where breathing is prayer.
VII The wind of the fall is here.
It is everywhere.
It moves every leaf of every tree.
It is the only motion of the river.
Green leaves grow weary of their color.
Now evening too is in the air.
The bright hawks of the day subside.
The owls waken.
Small creatures die because larger creatures are hungry.
How superior to this human confusion of greed and creed, blood and fire.
VIII The question before me, now that I am old, is not how to be dead, which I know from enough practice, but how to be alive, as these worn hills still tell, and some paintings of Paul Cezanne, and this mere singing wren, who thinks he's alive forever, this instant, and may be.