I have never been any good at writing poetry about nature. I felt that my poems hinged on cliche, and I was too in awe of nature to put it to paper—I never did nature any justice. And then, I was introduced to Wendell Berry and The Peace of Wild Things, and trying to write poems about nature after reading that piece was ludicrous. I share Berry’s poem again for two reasons—I think of his piece whenever nature moves me, and the fact that I can’t turn it into poetry. The moon is magnificent tonight, shadows and light testing the water, the woods illuminated. And I share this poem again because everyone should read it several times a year. I keep it framed by my bed, a gift given to me by another alcoholic.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair 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 his 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 for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. – Wendell Berry
artwork: ray ellis / rayellis.com