I Rest in the Grace of the World

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 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 with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

--"The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry 

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3 thoughts on “I Rest in the Grace of the World”

  1. A Poem on Hope

    It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,

    For hope must not depend on feeling good

    And there is the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.

    You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality

    Of the future, which surely will surprise us,

    …And hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction

    Any more than by wishing. But stop dithering.

    The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?

    Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

    Because we have not made our lives to fit

    Our places, the forests are ruined, the fields eroded,

    The streams polluted, the mountains overturned. Hope

    Then to belong to your place by your own knowledge

    Of what it is that no other place is, and by

    Your caring for it as you care for no other place, this

    Place that you belong to though it is not yours,

    For it was from the beginning and will be to the end

    Belong to your place by knowledge of the others who are

    Your neighbors in it: the old man, sick and poor,

    Who comes like a heron to fish in the creek,

    And the fish in the creek, and the heron who manlike

    Fishes for the fish in the creek, and the birds who sing

    In the trees in the silence of the fisherman

    And the heron, and the trees that keep the land

    They stand upon as we too must keep it, or die.

    This knowledge cannot be taken from you by power

    Or by wealth. It will stop your ears to the powerful

    when they ask for your faith, and to the wealthy

    when they ask for your land and your work.

    Answer with knowledge of the others who are here

    And how to be here with them. By this knowledge

    Make the sense you need to make. By it stand

    In the dignity of good sense, whatever may follow.

    Speak to your fellow humans as your place

    Has taught you to speak, as it has spoken to you.

    Speak its dialect as your old compatriots spoke it

    Before they had heard a radio. Speak

    Publicly what cannot be taught or learned in public.

    Listen privately, silently to the voices that rise up

    From the pages of books and from your own heart.

    Be still and listen to the voices that belong

    To the streambanks and the trees and the open fields.

    There are songs and sayings that belong to this place,

    By which it speaks for itself and no other.

    Found your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.

    Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground

    Underfoot. Be it lighted by the light that falls

    Freely upon it after the darkness of the nights

    And the darkness of our ignorance and madness.

    Let it be lighted also by the light that is within you,

    Which is the light of imagination. By it you see

    The likeness of people in other places to yourself

    In your place. It lights invariably the need for care

    Toward other people, other creatures, in other places

    As you would ask them for care toward your place and you.

    No place at last is better than the world. The world

    Is no better than its places. Its places at last

    Are no better than their people while their people

    Continue in them. When the people make

    Dark the light within them, the world darkens.

    -Wendell Berry

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