(Review) A Timbered Choir, The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 by Wendell Berry

Publisher and Publication Date: Counterpoint. 1998.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 216.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Poetry readers.
Rating: Excellent.


I learned about Wendell Berry from an author I follow, Sarah Clarkson. At one time, she recorded video messages on Facebook to her followers and would often choose a poem of Berry’s to read. I then began to explore what books he’d written. I’ve read Hannah Coulter. This is the first book of poetry of Berry’s I’ve read. He has become one of my favorite poets.

Further links on Wendell Berry:
Poetry Foundation
Berry Center

Goodreads author page with the list of Berry’s books.

An excerpt of the first poem in the book which is one of my favorites.

My Thoughts:

When I read a poem I do not try and figure out what the poet is trying to articulate through words. I think about how the poem effects my emotion or heart. Music has the same influence. Wendell Berry is a poet who speaks to my heart.

The first poem I love is the first poem in the book (page 5) and also in the above video. It is a poem that refers to quiet and solitude. These are often included in his poems: quiet, stillness, solitude, calm, and peace.

Often the poems are about taking time to examine nature. To sit or stand and observe. To take in with all the senses what is in the environment. Our society is busy and on the go. Our eyes focus on the loud; those material objects that distract. For example, cell phones. I believe it takes great patience, determination, and discipline to pause for thought, and to turn-away from that distraction and towards stillness.

When Berry is in the “woodland” it is a worship experience. The brightness of the sun, the color of the leaves, the effect of the wind are a cadence.

The last poem is another favorite.

“There is a day
when the road neither
comes nor goes, and the way
is not a way but a place.”