The Peace of Wild Things Analysis by Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is considered as one of the most celebrated writers of the modern age. Critics and scholars consider him as a master in poetry, fiction write-ups, essays. His message essentially remains the same: Humans must learn to live in harmony with nature and the earth.


The Peace of Wild Things is another thought provoking poem that hammers a subtle aspect of our life. The poet wonderfully interlinks two complementary words, “peace” and “wild”, projecting a thought that ignites an appeal to every soul.

In this poem, the poet vividly shows, how peace exists in wild things, and is a mockery of civilization! While we call ourselves as civilized, peace is no where near to us! Remember, Wendell comes from a farmer’s family and his life can be said to be a perfect journey from the state of simplicity to a state of aristocracy; while this poem depicts his thoughts about, being civilized at the cost of losing mental peace!


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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.

..When despair for the world grows in me

The very first sentence induces a thought! The poet leaves it to the readers to visualize the reality of hopelessness and anguish (that world often lends) through their own lives.

The slightest sound making the poet awake at night portrays a vivid mental state, his very plight which is actually the outcome of his lifestyle!

..in fear of what my life and my children’s live may be..

This line is again very much unique to Wendell Berry and the present situation we’re living in! Most poets and their poetic compositions are not concerned with “I ness” or “My ness” as in this case! However, the present lifestyle guarantees no surety of the future. As long as you have a job, you can pay the EMIs and your life is secured. Once you get kicked off, you’re doomed! Yes, that’s what the poet actually means when he says, “my children’s lives”

I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

 

In these two lines, the poet express his desire to be a part of nature, actually the natural lifestyle! The phrases “wood drake”, “heron feeds” are symbolic and signifies the poets urge to live akin in a perfect natural environment.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought

These two lines actually sums up the entire theme of the peace of wild things. The poet actually finds himself at peace amidst the wild vagaries of Nature

The poet not only wants us to blend our lifestyle in a way that we’re always close to the wilderness of Nature, but he also reminds us to “live in the present moment”.

Forethought actually makes you less dynamic (workable) and more thought conscious. You’re not working, rather you’re just thinking!

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.

In these final lines the poet surrenders to his feeling. The “presence of still water” signifies serenity of mind and body. He actually becomes free from all worries and rests in the grace of the world. Yes, he finally becomes free! Free from a lifestyle that invites grief and platitude, and embrace the wilderness of Nature where come can be in a state of solitude.

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