Words That Inspire: The Wild Geese

Wendell Berry's poem, "Wild Geese" paints a colorful image of Earth's bounty, inspiring the beloved poet and farmer to be thankful that all we need is around us. Do your students second that notion?


The Wild Geese

By Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

From Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, by Wendell Berry.  Copyright 1998 by Wendell Berry.  With permission of author and Counterpoint Press, a member of Perseus Book Group.


Note to educators:

Wendell Barry left a longtime teaching position at University of Kentucky’s English Department to farm full time. His writing and practice are about the ongoing exploration of man’s use of and relationship to the land.  For Berry, everything in life is and should be thoughtfully integrated.

It would be easy to ask your students to reflect on Wendell Berry’s poetic words. But this time, we’re going to rouse the rebel in your students.

The last line in Berry’s poem is, “What we need is here.”  Ask your students if  everything they need is here.  Then, have them “talk back” to the poet to let him know what they think.


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