The latter half, "Sabbaths 1998-2004," of Berry's first all-new collection since A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997
(1998) contains more of the meditational poems Berry conceives on Sundays alone in the woods on his farm. The other half's three parts contain, respectively, short poems of observation, hortatory poems varying in length from epigram to six-page public epistle, and a brief verse play. The observational poems show the most variety of tone and form and may please the broadest range of readers. The play reprises the notion of personalized community integrity at the heart of Berry's novel Jayber Crow
(2000) and extends it beyond death. The intervening exhortations, collectively called "Further Words," reflect Berry-the-prophet, by turns angrily haranguing ("The Ongoing Holy War against Evil"), justly explaining himself ("Some Further Words"), naturally moralizing ("Lysimachia Nummularia"), earnestly preaching ("Original Sin"), and oracularly commanding ("The Future," which probably should be read at every public meeting in the U.S.). For those who believe that life and the world are gifts, this is an invaluable book. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"In an era of poetry written for tenure committees or for mere vanity, poetry praised for careerist or for idiosyncratic reasons, Berry's work leaps out as the unclassifiable, glorious exception."