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.
Wrestling with my own abundant speech and strong need for quiet contemplation, I am drawn to Berry’s values while feeling helpless in the struggle.
Berry himself addresses the dual love of speech and need for silence in the poetic lines set in the season of abundance.
In “The Silence,” Berry 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:
It is in the silence
that my hope is, and my aim.
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 and let creation speak.
Reads & Other Seeds
Mindful of copyrights, I quote “The Silence” only in part. Read Berry’s complete poem here.
Sparrowfare mourns the loss of a local bookstore by way of Jayber Crow in Becoming Rememberers: How Wendell Berry Helps us Grieve our Time’s Tragic Tradeoffs.
This post is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence). Inspire your inbox with regular posts! Follow Sparrrowfare and receive new posts by email.
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