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Leavings: Poems Paperback

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Leavings: Poems + A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 + The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158243624X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582436241
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his 18th book of poems, Berry (Given) rails against environmental destruction starting with the second poem: While the land suffers, automobiles thrive. He mixes philosophy, religion, politics, and personal experience in poems utilizing formal rhymes, spare jottings, and intimate letters. Most of the book is a long series inspired by Berry's regular Sunday morning walks. While Berry's various modes can make for interesting poetry, some of the poems here, particularly those that rely on a broad political brush, fall flat: The nation in its error... //Destroys its land. When hinging a poem on a candle against the wind, Berry should know he's on infertile ground. What still zings, though, are moments when this old man of letters surprises himself, as when Berry addresses his wife: I love you as I loved you/ young, except that, old, I am astonished. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Berry has become ever more prophetic. The poems he collectively calls sabbaths, composed on Sundays in the woods on his farmland since 1979, occupy four-fifths of this book. If originally meditational and quiet, however serious and deep the passions they mulled over, the sabbath poems are now oracular in the mode of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other Hebrew prophets who enjoined their people to come to their senses and remember the Lord and his bounty, promises, and judgment. In the sabbaths of 2005–08 published here, Berry angrily mourns the degradation of the nation wrought by destruction of the land and the pursuit of wealth and power. He says that we must prepare to live without hope for a while, though in the very first of the sabbaths, he prays not to lose love along with hope: “Help me, please, to carry / this candle against the wind.” Despite anger and bitterness, he often recalls and teaches the beauty and propriety of creation, too. If he is a Jeremiah, he is also a David the psalmist. --Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy.
I must recommend this book of common-sense, hard-hitting poems.
Thomas S. Fiske
This gentleman is truly a wonder as a writer and a Poet!
Eric S. Houser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Gregory L. Glover on November 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wendell Berry's earlier books of poetry often carried titles that seemed to open up with a measure of hope toward the future: like Openings: Poems (Harvest/Hbj Book) and Entries, Findings and Clearing, and Given: Poems. But with Leavings: Poems Berry seems closer to sunset than sunrise. Hope, where it may be found, is hard won. Leavings is not the title of any one of the poems, but seems to sum up the book, as if Berry were deliberately taking leave of his readers. "It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old." (2007.VI) "In time a man disappears..." (2007.VII) "I know I am getting old and I say so,..." (2005.VII) There are other leavings here too, other than the merely personal, predominantly that of the descending water that flows out from a lowly stream named Camp Branch. Falling tones, falling leaves (literally), falling steps, falling stones, falling snow and falling rain transport the reader to the Kentucky countryside where we see the place that has meant and still means the world to Mr. Berry.Read more ›
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on December 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wendell Berry is mad, he has had enough of how things are going. He is not only writing about it, he protested with Bill McKibben and James Hansen at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington, D.C. re climate change.

1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. O'Brien on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Leavings, Wendell Berry's latest book of poetry is right on the mark. The first several poems are commentaries on ecology, our often wasteful life styles and eating habits which hurt us and the earth, the intrusion of technology which takes us from our natural roots as interdependent human beings. The one that provokes the greatest reflection (I think) is Questionnaire in which we are asked how far we are willing to often unknowingly go to desecrate ourselves and our planet - an honest and very powerful reflection on the major issues of our time. Almost half of the book is devoted to Berry's short and pithy meditations on the place of the natural world in his life, it's rivers and streams, trees and much more. Many of these poems have been inspired by Wendell Berry's communing with nature on his Sunday morning walks. This wonderful little book carries on the tradition of Berry's ability to give voice to what is important to our lives and is often difficult to express - and he does it so well.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on July 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The first poem, "Like Snow," proposes:
"Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out."

That's how I envision Wendell Berry composing Leavings: Poems.

His curiosity about cosmic origins wonders how what banged in the Big Bang and what chance had to do with it: "As if
That tied up ignorance with a ribbon."

His ever-present environmental conscience asks the Garden Club,
"But why not play it cool? Why not survive
By Nature's laws that still keep us alive?"
and adds,
"The garden delves no deeper than its roots
And lifts no higher than its leaves and fruits."

His reverence for God he demonstrates when he pleads,
"I have no love
except it come from Thee.

Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind."

He celebrates the sanctity of life and says, "The body
is a single creature, whole"...

And he "craves the wholeness of the world" too.

He celebrates nature, claiming,
"You see the rainbow and the new-leafed
woods bright beneath, you see
the otters playing in the river".

He reminds us that, in many ways, we are the spiritual authors of our circumstances: "When people make
dark the light within them, the world darkens."

He gives us dire economics lessons:
"We forget the land we stand on
and live from. We set ourselves
free in an economy founded
on nothing, on greed verified".

He also has a word about verse.
"Poems, do not raise your voice.
Be a whisper that says, 'There!' "

That too is what Wendell Berry does in LEAVINGS: POEMS.

Enjoy the serenity, the wisdom, and sparks of lamentation and indignation that nevertheless dash from the whispers.
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