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 has been writing poetry and prose for decades. Many view him as one of America’s great thinkers and philosophers. He is a farmer like his father and grandfather before him. His son is following in his foot steps. His philosophy evolved from the soil and his connection with that soil. He often speaks of the great harm that factory farming and industrial capitalism is doing to this country and the soul of all I have a passing familiarityAmericans. I don’t know if he’s ever written about Pope Francis and Laudato Si’, but I think Wendell and Francis are pretty much in alignment on man’s relationship with the rest of creation.

Wendell’s writings remind me of Eric Sloane and his many books on early New England life such as “A Reverence for Wood,” “American Barns and Covered Bridges” and”A Museum of Early American Tools.” Eric developed a philosophy of awareness from his studies of the self-sufficiency of these early American farmers who grew and made damned near everything they needed. Early Americans, Sloan contended, were acutely aware of the natural world around them and their place in that world. 

I have a passing familiarity with farming. I lent a hand often over the years on the neighboring Petrauskas farm. My first full time paying job was on the Roaring Brook Poultry Farm… for a dollar fifty an hour cash. We also had a decent sized family garden when I was young. As soon as I and each of my brothers and sisters became old enough to wield a hoe, my father gave each of us a small plot. We would decide what we wanted to grow. My father would order the seeds from the Burpee seed catalog and we would be responsible for growing and harvesting our crops. I wouldn’t have the chance to garden again until I was stationed at Fort Devens. We weren’t supposed to have gardens in government housing, but I made my vegetable plots look like landscaping. The last garden I had was in Germany when I had a small vegetable plot and two apple trees. My pruning of those trees cemented my status among the farmers in that tiny Bavarian community. Now I just grow flowers and trees and am lucky to get a few blueberries before the birds finish them off. 

I haven’t read a lot of Wendell Berry, but I think I’ll make an effort to do so. I’ll probably break out my Eric Sloane books as well. I’ve already started taking down my old Foxfire books from the bookcase.


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18 Responses to THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS by Wendell Berry – TTG

  1. mcohen says:

    great stuff.thanks

  2. Chris says:

    I’ve been looking through one of my old Foxfire books recently. Great books that fascinated me as a young boy and they still do.

  3. akaPatience says:

    That’s a beautiful poem, thank you TTG. Wendell Berry is an interesting man.

    Like a dwindling number of Americans, I’m only one generation removed from farming. My father grew up on a farm that belonged to his family for several generations but left eventually, as countless others did, to find work in a city. We had a large back yard at the house I grew up in, and my green-thumbed father farmed it, producing a wide variety and abundant quantities of produce. I was his best helper, and every year would accompany him to buy the seeds to plant in the spring. I have snapshots of the two of us, standing in front of his gigantic tomato plants which were a major source of pride. He was at his best when he worked the soil, and as I’ve aged I’ve thought more and more of those days when we would happily do our work together, row by row.

    As I’ve mentioned before here, I live in the urban core of my city. One thing I don’t like about it is how many of my neighbors sneer and disparage rural folk, even suburbanites, failing to understand the desire of some people to farm or at least garden, thus maintaining a more direct connection to nature. I’ll never forge the cheeky remark a passerby made while I was cleaning outside our downtown building: “How urban, watering the concrete”.

    • different clue says:


      I am not sure I understand the phrasing . . . “many of my neighbors sneer and disparage rural folk, even suburbanites” . . .

      Are many of your neighbors considering suburbanites to be rural enough to sneer at? Or are many suburbanites joining with your neighbors in sneering at rural people? Which of those two ways to interpret the phrase is the correct one?

  4. Carey says:

    Thanks for this post.. another Wendell Berry fan here. This is a nice collection, I think:

    His “anachronistic” ideas are going to show themselves to be so true, and quite soon.

  5. Carey says:

    Thanks for this post on Wendell Berry; someone I admire very much.

    A good collection of his ever-more-timely work, I think:

  6. different clue says:


    Another book you might enjoy is New Roots For Agriculture, by Wes Jackson.

    Wes Jackson had used to be an agriculture-crop geneticist. When he saw problems building which did not seem solvable from within the profession, he left and started a thing called The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas.

    He came to decide that the soil erosion, rural depopulation, etc. problems besetting the annual field-and-row crop farming system could not be solved from within that system. In the short run, he thinks an eco-bio-technological fix is possible. His sought-for fix is this: a mix of perennial plains and prairie species of plants which bear seeds good enough for people to eat and productive enough to be worth the effort. That way, the land could be left in a managed mix of selected perennial grain/seed/bean bearing species which all set their seed close enough together in time that they can be harvested with one pass. The mixed seed-harvest would then be separated into species by passing it through a series of screens with different sized holes to select for the different sized seeds.

    But the book is not about the technical details of The Land Institute’s work and research. It is his explanation of how we got here and why he thinks such an approach is now necessary.

    About Eric Sloane, my father was a wood hobbyist and had a couple of Eric Sloane’s books. I have bought a couple more over time. What I like is that they are well enough illustrated that I can get an idea of what is being talked about from the illustrations.

    • different clue says:

      Now that I look closer at the cover of this book as illustrated at the offered-link,
      I see that this book also has a preface by Wendell Berry.

      So any book with a preface by Wendell Berry might well be considered to have earned the Wendell Berry good culture-keeping seal of approval.

  7. Carey says:

    Thanks for this post on Wendell Berry, whom I admire. His ideas are going to seem ever
    more pertinent with time..

    I think this is a good collection of his work:

  8. John+Merryman says:

    My mother was fascinated by One Straw Revolution;

    The preface is by Wendall Berry.

    • different clue says:

      There is a project of putting old books about agriculture, health, etc. ( several to many decades old) on line for free reading. It is increasingly being realized that they are not obsolete, they are classic. While there is no specifically Wendell Berry material here so far as I know, one thinks Wendell Berry would approve of people reading these things.

  9. John+Merryman says:


  10. Tess says:

    May be you can find interesting…PDF for dowloading

    “The Life Code”: Théorie Unifiée de l’Information Génétique: “Le Code Génétique Angulaire Universel” extrait du livre: copyright CODEX BIOGENESIS j.c. Perez 2009

    This theory totally debunk SARSCov2 as a natural event…btw…

  11. downtownhaiku says:

    Good to see you admiring Wendell.

    Wendall was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, along with

    fellow Kentuckians Gurney Norman and Ed

    McClanahan, and Texan Larry McMurtry

    and Oregonian Ken Kesey, also Robert Stone.

    The center of their lives was Perry Lane, famous

    for its creative hippy lifestyle.

    Stegner himself did not participate at Perry Lane.

    I was there, I participated.

    Those were the days my friend.

  12. mcohen says:

    I farmed in South africa.Intersting experience,unfortunately once the anc came into power it became a dangerous occupation and I eventually left the country.
    A poem I wrote about farming

    Good fences good neighbours.
    No knives and sabers.
    Sheltering from the fog
    Three goats,a horse,six chickens,one dog.

    Inside a loving woman
    Singing four songs and a hymn.
    Two bicycles,one cat
    A black eyed bat.

    Sun is shining,beautiful day
    Come what may
    Nice big barn,a wise old owl
    A cat on the prowl

    A tractor and trailer
    Rusty old bailer
    Planted In the fields,corn and oat
    A scarecrow with an old grey coat.

    Black clouds bringing rain
    Coming closer over the plain.
    You reap what you sow
    Pray that water will flow.

  13. different clue says:

    Several decades ago I bought a Wendell Berry book called The Unsettling Of America.
    I tried reading it some, and I tried reading a few-couple essays by Wendell Berry elsewhere. At the time I found the writing too ornate and wordy. It felt like he needed a paragraph to write a sentence, and a page to write a paragraph. But I kept the book and still have it. Now, after several decades, it might read differently.

    Also several decades ago, I saw the transcript of a debate held somewhere between Wendell Berry and Earl “Get big or get out” Butz. It was in an issue of CoEvolution Quarterly, the magazine put out by the Whole Earth Catalog people. After reading and re-reading it a few times, I realized that while I supported and support Wendell Berry’s side of the argument, I would rather have a beer with Earl Butz. I found myself at the pycho-mental emotional with Butz, with that sometime sense of cold slow-freezing bitterness.

    If someone could figure out a way to express Wendell Berry’s thinking in Earl Butz’s language, we would have a real winner here.

  14. different clue says:

    ( There’s an awfully clumsy sentence in my comment.

    . . . I found myself at the pycho-mental emotional with Butz . . .
    should read . . .
    I found myself at the psycho-mental emotional level identifying with Butz . . . )

  15. PRC90 says:

    Farm life offers another thing that the brightly lit city cannot – the stars at night, literally an entire universe. With a 20 or 30 power quality telescope the night is never long enough.

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