Synopses & Reviews
No one writes like Wendell Berry. Whether essay, novel, story, or poem, his inimitable voice rings true, as natural as the land he has farmed in Kentucky for over 40 years.
Following the widely praised Given, this new collection offers a masterful blend of epigrams, elegies, lyrics, and letters, with the occasional short love poem. Alternately amused, outraged, and resigned, Berrys welcome voice is the constant in this varied mix. The book concludes with a new sequence of Sabbath poems, works that have spawned from Berrys Sunday morning walks of meditation and observation.
Berrys themes are reflections of his life: friends, family, the farm, the nature around us as well as within. He speaks strongly for himself and sometimes for the lost heart of the country. As he has borne witness to the world for eight decades, what he offers us now in this new collection of poems is of incomparable value.
"In his 18th book of poems, Berry (Given) rails against environmental destruction starting with the second poem: 'While the land suffers, automobiles thrive.' He mixes philosophy, religion, politics, and personal experience in poems utilizing formal rhymes, spare jottings, and intimate letters. Most of the book is a long series inspired by Berry's regular Sunday morning walks. While Berry's various modes can make for interesting poetry, some of the poems here, particularly those that rely on a broad political brush, fall flat: 'The nation in its error... //Destroys its land.' When hinging a poem on a 'candle against the wind,' Berry should know he's on infertile ground. What still zings, though, are moments when this old man of letters surprises himself, as when Berry addresses his wife: 'I love you as I loved you/ young, except that, old, I am astonished.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
He can be said to have returned American poetry to a Wordsworthian clarity of purpose.” New York Times Book Review