“We need people who are humble, who go about doing a thing because it is right and it is good rather than popular or well-rewarded.”
I had the good fortune to hear Wendell Berry read last Friday night. The event was made more special in the knowledge of its rarity because of Berry’s well-established reluctance to travel away from his farm in Kentucky and in the frank light that, at seventy-six, he will likely travel less and less in the future. Tall and straight-backed, he continues to display the energy and clear-mindedness that has allowed him to be so prolific and that has made him so beloved a figure among readers and those interested in preserving rural places and slow food supplies. He offered what is best described as a quiet reading, or rather perhaps it was a quiet story, something of a quaint, almost old-fashioned tale set in 1945, a year he described this night, as he has in other work, as a “great fulcrum” where a new world encroached suddenly on an older world dependent on different patterns and different technologies. One didn’t have to listen hard within this story to hear the instruction within it, that steady hand that has marked all of Berry’s work reminding us to be mindful of the past, respectful of traditional ways and of those who live by older patterns, and careful in our use of land and grateful for the needs it fulfills. The story offered a familiar visit to known people and places of his imagined Port William, Kentucky. That it was a new story developed in his seventh decade seems no surprise given Berry’s lifelong work ethic and stamina.
The comments to this entry are closed.