A Comforting Poem

I have been reading a little book I bought for a dollar from the used book shed of the Marfa Public Library, out in West Texas.  The title is Earth Prayers, and it was published in 1991.  I don’t normally read much poetry, but I have been finding a lot of comfort in this little volume.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in this beauty on the water,  and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry



Wood Duck drake.

“…where the wood drake rests his beauty on the water…”

"I come into the presence of still water."

“I come into the presence of still water.”

"...and the great heron feeds."

“…and the great heron feeds.”


Earth Prayers From Around the World, 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth, Harper San Francisco, 1991, Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, editors.

I have seen the name Wendell Berry but never read anything by him — looking him up, I see that this line about the wild things not taxing their lives with the forethought of grief, is one of his most quoted.  I’m not sure where it was originally published but it appears in this collection, The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.