Lovely Silence

I can’t help but always be drawn back to well written verse and absolutely love discussing it with other poetry enthusiasts. One of my favorite poets is Wendell Berry. Being from my own home state of Kentucky, he has the same deep appreciation for nature and those lovely Appalachian mountains as I have. There is a simple, steady way of life in this part of the country, and Mr. Berry captures it beautifully in so many of his works. Today I would like to share the second section  from one of my favorites  entitled “Words” from his book “Given”



Well, we can stop

for a while, if we try hard enough,

if we are lucky. We can sit still,

keep silent, let the phoebe, the sycamore,

the river, the stone call themselves, their own

sounds, their own silence, and thus

may know for a moment the nearness

of the world, its vastness,

its vast variousness, far and near

which only silence knows. And then

we must call all things by name

out of the silence again to be with us,

or die of namelessness.”

-Wendell Berry, “Given”

Growing up in the rural, rolling hills of Kentucky, I was spoiled to having been able to see and get to know nature for how it existed, and fall in love. I was taught to appreciate and understand the many languages it speaks. This intentional stillness that Berry speaks of is a foreign concept in today’s fast paced, not-enough-time, drive-through-line world. His emphasis on “can” in the first line makes the point that we are all capable of hearing, feeling, experiencing the creation we live amongst, yet we often choose not to, with excuses as to why we “can’t”. It is also so lovely, in my opinion, how he crafts parts of nature “the phoebe, the sycamore, the river, the stone” to have a voice of their own, that we aren’t able to hear or recognize if we aren’t listening for it. I like how Berry seems overwhelmed with the nearness and vastness of the world when he mentions that perhaps it is a realization we can only withstand for a few moments. Its this raw simplicity that can only be discovered through silence on our parts. I think Berry wraps it up by touching on the fact that it is how we relate with the world that gives us our identity. I think he is saying, maybe, that how we determine names and identities for the world, in a sense, names and characterizes us.

It is refreshing to spend a few moments soaking in a few well written lines that with one can identify. I am always on the look out for similar verse that seeks to capture the same simplicity of life that I was raised in and to which feel deeply connected. It’s because of this I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the “vastness” to which Berry may be referring. So many people in the world, so many lives being lived, so much beauty and so much sorrow…

I would love to hear from any of my fellow poetry-lovers. Recommendations are always good, or perhaps you read the same lines and understood them to mean something completely different.

Until next time,



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