Title: Collected Poems: 1957-1982
Author: Wendell Berry
Publisher: North Point Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
This review was previously posted on my personal blog on April 12, 2007.
I chose Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems: 1957-1982 as my next poetry choice after finishing The Collected Works of Emily Dickinson. I was not crazy about the Dickinson. There were a few poems that really jumped out at me, but overall I found her poems morbid, depressing, and – sometimes – undecipherable. I know that’s heresy to Dickinson-lovers, but that’s my opinion.
Berry’s collection renewed my love of poetry. I enjoyed each and every page. Because the book includes poems in chronological order, you feel like you experience his life in order: his disillusionment with the Vietnam War and city life, his retreat to the country, his love-affair with his land, his marriage, his faith. I am very much looking forward to reading the two Berry books I checked out from the library yesterday: Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays and That Distant Land: Collected Stories.
To Go By Singing
He comes along the street, singing,
a rag of a man, with his game foot and bum’s clothes.
He’s asking for nothing – his hands
aren’t even held out. His song
is the gift of singing, to him
and to all who will listen.
To hear him, you’d think the engines
would all stop, and the flower vendor would stand
with her hands full of flowers and not move.
You’d think somebody would have hired him
and provided him a clean quiet stage to sing on.
But there’s no special occasion or place
for his singing – that’s why it needs
to be strong. His song doesn’t impede the morning
or change it, except by freely adding itself.