The Peace of Wild Things
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.
From Wendell Berry, Collected Poems: 1957-1982 (North Point Press, 1987).
If only I could find my wood drake. I know why I feel such sadness to leave the solace of Maine behind every fall. I can take the memory of those great herons and stretch it out to last until it is time to re-open in the spring. At least I can try to capture those memories, as does Berry, in poetry.
John Ehrenfeld 2019
The ebb tide is at its seasonal low,
Draining the bay to the clammers’ delight.
The eelgrass shimmers, an ocean’s meadow.
The exposed mud is everywhere in sight.
Two herons graze, along a stealthy trek.
They stop and wait patiently for their catch.
Then, a quick snap of the sinuous neck,
And some unlucky shrimp plunges down the hatch.
One approached too close to the other’s stand.
Worried that he might rob her dinner pail,
She ﬂew straight at him, shooed him away, and
Then went back to look for a tasty snail.
In just a moment, something inside stirred.
That quiet heron became an angry bird.