The Silence: A Poem By Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry–poet, novelist, lover of the land–distills life to its essence, teaching us to value the concrete beauty in the natural world and to question our innumerable ways of wasting days that could be filled with wonder.

Berry’s poem, “The Silence,” (click here for full text) wrestles with our love of speech and our need for silence.  He begins by noting the dissonance caused by a head full of words and the singing of the natural world he’s observing:

Though the air is full of singing
my head is loud
with the labor of words.

In the richness of a fruit-laden season, the poet acknowledges his longing for the “sweetness of speech,” adding that standing before the glory of a golden beech, remaining mute is nearly impossible.  Nevertheless, he finds that the world truly lives when speech dies:

God silently speaks through creation:  through fruit-laden seasons, golden trees and  little sparrows.

In a noisy world, I must make room for silent wonder.


This post is part of a speech-silenceseries (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence). To receive new installments, you’re invited to Follow Sparrrowfare by placing your email address in the FOLLOW box.

Please share the posts that speak to you.  In this contentious time, let’s spread the word about the importance of our words.