Friday, November 8, 2013

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry are a gentle collection of poems centered around Sunday walks through the woods and fields, and reflections on God, nature, and the status of human beings next to these entwined entities
Berry has a simple and style which lacks pretension and flourish.   For the most part these poems, sometimes rhymed, often not, speak in a very colloquial register.  This can mask the rather bold moves  Berry makes.  He is melding monotheistic Christianity with a kind of nature veneration or pantheism we find in very classical Romanticism.  But Berry does so with a soft voice. His romanticism should be spelled with the lower case r.  

These poems are about gentle encounters with God in nature, and not fantastic revelatory experiences.  As such, they are easy to underestimate.   

But Berry is doing something that has been done, and done radically, for centuries:  taking the veneration of the one God, and broadening it out and beyond a time or space into nature. Or perhaps even Nature. 

That he does this in a soft voice only serves to heighten, rather than detract from, the boldness of this move.

No comments:

Post a Comment