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Given: Poems

Customer Reviews:

Thoughts about love, aging and war

By Patricia Kramer - October 6, 2005

Wendell Berry has written more than 40 books. His poetry books are shining gems. They are filled with short "simple" poems that will stop you in your tracks.

The section of this book entitled "Sabbaths" contains poems written on Sundays from 1998-2004. Until 2003, these poems are about love, long term love; aging,the joys and sorrows; and love and connection with the land. In 2003, Berry gets angry and his poems are filled with sorrow and horror about the war.

From VII

"When they cannot speak freely in defiance

of wealth self-elected to righteousness,

let the arts of pleasure and beauty cease.

Let every poet and singer of joy be dumb.

When those in power by owning all the words

have made them mean nothing, let silence

speak for us. When freedom's light goes out, let color

drain from all paintings into gray puddles

on the museum floor. When every ear awaits... read more

Berry Has Much Better Poems

By J. Alfier - April 18, 2006

Wendell Berry is one of my favorite poets; I highly recommend 'Entries', 'The Timbered Choir, and his various collected and selected poems to anyone interested in language that is alive and powerful in evocatively imagistic and spiritual ways. But 'Given' left me a bit cold. These poems would be better suited to Berry's excellent agrarian commentary work; but as poetry they failed the genre a bit, coming off like bland polemics in a language all too flat. The work is not without some merit, but I would certainly give Berry's other collections a much higher priority.

Gifts for Sabbath

By Gary Sprandel - November 1, 2005

Wonderful recent poems. Some of the poems seem ambiguous, which add to their power. In "The Rejected Husband" it doesn't matter if he is talking about a divorce or a death, it still has the pain of rejection. " He writes a Poem "How to be a poet" to remind him not to "disturb the silence from which it came".

The Sabbath poems from 1998-2004 have a sermon quality and other times a elegy quality. There is his own grappling with the loss of friends "nothing taken, that was not first a gift." But there is also the hope in nature "and the little blossoms make a new softness in the light", and the relationship of with grief is "In Heaven the starry saints will wipe away / The tears forever from our eyes, but they / Must no erase the memory of our grief. In bliss, eve, there can be no relief".

It Is up to the reader to decide If Berry achieve his goal "To make my art compatible / with the songs of the local birds."

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