Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Living a Poem

Several years ago I participated as a student and a teaching assistant in a poetry MOOC (massive open online course) taught by former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky. At the completion of "The Art of Poetry," each participant compiled an anthology of favorite poems. Many of the poems in my anthology are fairly obscure but one in it that is well-known is "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry. This poem came alive for me one morning in a park. The following is an I excerpt from a blog post I published in 2017. 

In this one stanza free verse poem Wendell Berry speaks in the first person and he is speaking about the healing power of nature. Several years ago, I had a terrifying nightmare that left me nervous and upset. The following day I took my little dog for a walk in a nearby park. Suddenly, I heard the sound of pounding hooves so close I felt the vibrations in the ground caused by their power. Four beautiful white-tail deer galloped by! Awestruck, I stood very still and watched them till they disappeared in the woods. My dog was also still. No longer startled, I felt calm but not an ordinary calmness, something deeper and not easily described. The last line of “The Peace of Wild Things” came to me – “I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” I don’t remember the nightmare. I do remember the deer and Wendell Berry’s poem.

To read the poem click here.

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