The idea of “Sabbath” has always meant or implied rest. From its first recording in Genesis 1, through the conflicts described in the Gospels between Jesus and the Pharisees and teachers of law, right down to our more secular notions of “sabbatical,” rest has always been central in any discussion or understanding of “Sabbath.”
And so it is in Wendell Berry’s This Day: Collected & New Sabbath Poems, published in 2013 (and often paired with his New Collected Poems published earlier last year). Of course, with Berry, everything is of a piece. As he notes in his introduction, he spends traditional Sabbaths in the old family church, unless the weather is good, or even tolerable. Then he heads for the woods and fields near his home in Kentucky, and discovering the reality of the Sabbath (and perhaps worship) just as much as he does sitting in a pew. Perhaps more.
This is not the first time Berry has published a collection of Sabbath poetry. The heart of the new collection is poems from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997.
You read a collection like This Day, and you quickly learn how critically important the idea is in the poet’s understanding of nature, the land, God, aging, humanity, industrial civilization, and agriculture.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Photograph by Marina Shemesh via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.