Grant gave me This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems for Christmas, and I have finally been digging into it. Of This Day, the publisher says,
For nearly thirty-five years, Wendell Berry has been at work on a series of poems occasioned by his solitary Sunday walks around his farm in Kentucky. From riverfront and meadows, to grass fields and woodlots, every inch of this hillside farm lives in these poems, as do the poet’s constant companions of memory and occasion, family and animals, who have with Berry created his Home Place with love and gratitude.
These are poems of spiritual longing and political extremity, memorials and celebrations, elegies and lyrics, alongside the occasional rants of the Mad Farmer, pushed to the edge yet again by his compatriots and elected officials.
With the publication of this new complete edition, it has become increasingly clear that The Sabbath Poems have become the very heart of Berry’s entire work. And these magnificent poems, taken as a whole, have become one of the greatest contributions ever made to American poetry.
I am loving this collection, especially having all of the poems together. He breaks them down by year and starts with 1979, so it is fascinating to see how long he has been talking about the issues that we’re facing – and maybe a bit frightening to see how we’re still facing so many of the same issues today. He is also more personal in his poetry at times, so, in reading it, I feel a bit like I’m sitting down to coffee with him.
I liked this one, titled IX and written in 1989:
One day I walked imagining
What work I might do here,
The place, once dark, made clear
By work and thought, my managing,
The world thus made more dear.
I walked and dreamed, the sun in clouds,
Dreamer and day at odds.
The world in its great mystery
Was hidden by my dream.
Today I make no claim;
I dream of what is here, the tree
Beside the falling stream,
The stone, the light upon stone;
And day and dream are one.