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Given: Poems Paperback – March 1, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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 Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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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."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593761074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593761073
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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 only

the knock on the door in the dark midnight,

let all the orchestras sound just one long note of woe.

No matter if you read Berry's fiction, essays or poetry, your life will be enriched.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Poetry is very personal. I love his poetry because: 1. I am old and have been married a long time. 2. I feel at peace in nature. 3. I am in awe of my wife and nature. 4. I have many wonderful memories of my past, They now outweigh the pains, distress, and disappointments I have experienced while getting old.
He touches my heart, helps me weep with joy at how wonderful my life has been, and reminds me of the beautiful people and friends I have had. I feel that God has Loved me.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
Another insightful, lyrical, heartfelt work from W.B. He hits on some images that almost take us to spiritual levels beyond the mind. This is rare! [for more on spiritual love see the essay in Sunlight from Another Day - by yours truly.]
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