Sunday, April 17, 2016

npm pmmu #17: I go and lie down

This month I'm posting daily Poetry-Music Match-Ups, and you're invited to join me! 
(See the bottom* of the post for ideas.)  When I don't have a crowd-sourced combo 
scheduled, I'll share one of my own many, many PMMUs!  If something comes to your
 mind, send it to me HERE.
    Today the exquisite new green of the trees against our blue, blue Maryland sky put me in mind of this poem, even as I heard on the radio about the Pacific “ring of fire” and not one but two places on earth quaked to pieces.

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 The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998.
Source: Collected Poems 1957-1982 (Counterpoint Press, 1985)

I’ve heard this musical setting (by Malcolm Dalglish) a number of times and even sung it myself—curious to consider how a composer deals with a free verse poem like this one, when music wants so often to be patterned and cycled and symmetrical.  There are several different compositions for "The Peace of Wild Things";  everybody wants to feel that, I guess.

performed by The Starry Mountain Singers


  1. One of my favorite poems. I came across a Berry quote today in a restaurant. It's been a Berry good day.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Diane! Yes, a Berry good day.


Thanks for joining in the wild rumpus!