A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997

Front Cover
Counterpoint LLC, 1999 - Poetry - 240 pages
2 Reviews
For more than two decades, Wendell Berry has spent his Sunday mornings in a kind of walking meditation, observing the world and writing poems. A small collection of Berry’s Sabbath poems was published in 1987, but A Timbered Choir gathers all of these singular poems written to date. In his preface, Berry tells us that his Sabbath poems were 'written in silence, in solitude, mainly out of doors', and his hope is that readers will read them as they were written - 'slowly, and with more patience than effort'. This wish proves unusually rewarding, for Berry’s voice is quiet, meditative, and wholehearted. He reminds us that there is a quietness which allows us to pay closer attention to the world and our place in it. Berry’s evocation of the natural world shows us time and again the exquisite beauty of the commonplace. He writes of walking away from his home, turning, and seeing the landscape transformed by spring - 'In its time and great patience/ beauty had come upon us/ greater than I had imagined'. He writes, also, of dark revelations; the day, for example, when his granddaughters visit the Holocaust Museum - 'Now, you know the worst/ we humans have to know/ about ourselves, and I am sorry'. Berry’s Sabbath poems embrace much that is elemental to human life - beauty, death, peace, and hope. Many years of writing have won Wendell Berry the affection of a broad public. He is beloved for his quiet, steady explorations of nature, his emphasis on finding good work to do in the world, and his faith in the solace of family, memory, and community. His poetry is always poised and unceasingly spiritual; its power lies in the strength of the truths revealed.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - StephenBarkley - LibraryThing

This past summer I paddled the Missinaibi River from Missinaibi Lake to Mattice. In the evenings around the campfire, I would read a poem or two from this volume. Berry’s a farmer from Kentucky, so it ... Read full review


User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Winner of the T.S. Eliot Award, Berry (A World Lost, LJ 10/15/96) spends Sunday mornings in walking meditation in the forests and fields around his Port Royal, KY, farm. During these walks he writes ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1999)

Wendell Berry The prolific poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry is a fifth-generation native of north central Kentucky. Berry taught at Stanford University; traveled to Italy and France on a Guggenheim Fellowship; and taught at New York University and the University of Kentucky, Lexington, before moving to Henry County. Berry owns and operates Lanes Landing Farm, a small, hilly piece of property on the Kentucky River. He embraced full-time farming as a career, using horses and organic methods to tend the land. Harmony with nature in general, and the farming tradition in particular, is a central theme of Berry's diverse work. As a poet, Berry gained popularity within the literary community. Collected Poems, 1957-1982, was particularly well-received. Novels and short stories set in Port William, a fictional town paralleling his real-life home town of Port Royal further established his literary reputation. The Memory of Old Jack, Berry's third novel, received Chicago's Friends of American Writers Award for 1975. Berry reached his broadest audience and attained his greatest popular acclaim through his essays. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture is a springboard for contemporary environmental concerns. In his life as well as his art, Berry has advocated a responsible, contextual relationship with individuals in a local, agrarian economy.

Bibliographic information