“For a time/ I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
I have sometimes suggested to teachers that they ask their students to explore what Wendell Berry might mean by the use of the word “free” in this line.
I’m sure you recognize it as the last from his well known poem 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.
I have blithely offered that as an exercise for students, but I have not taken the time to really explore it myself. So, I ask myself, just how is Wendell Berry “free” when he rests in the grace of the world?
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