The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry Summary

Wendell Berry

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry

As perhaps the foremost contemporary pastoral poet, Wendell Berry has written with quiet insistence about the importance of family, community, and place. His vision has been one of cultural renewal through renewed contact with the natural world. Now, for the first time, with the publication of THE SELECTED POEMS OF WENDELL BERRY, readers can trace the development of his poetic sensibility, from the early lyric poems to the more recent complex meditative poems.

This new edition of Berry’s poems supplements his COLLECTED POEMS, 1957-1982 (1985) by including poems from ENTRIES (1994), although not from his most recent volume, A TIMBERED CHOIR: THE SABBATH POEMS, 1979-1997 (1998), which would have made this collection too large. Despite this omission, THE SELECTED POEMS OF WENDELL BERRY is an important collection that will allow the reader to trace Berry’s development as a poet over the past four decades. A steady deepening and resonance of Berry’s voice and sensibility as a pastoral poet are apparent in these selections from nine previous collections. In his foreword, Berry notes that this new collection gave him the opportunity to cull and condense his poetry for greater compactness. This volume represents the best of his poetry.

Throughout his career, Berry has focused steadily on the enduring values of land, farming, family, and community. His lyrical pastoral vision unites marriage, husbandry, and fidelity to place as the basic sources of inspiration and renewal. Virtually all of these poems are set on his Port Royal, Kentucky, farm, where he has lived for the past three decades. His personal vision may best be found in his lyric “Stay Home.” A leading environmental spokesman and critic of consumerism, Berry articulates in this work his vision of the good life, marked by work, frugality, and the appreciation of nature.