Roots to the Earth

Book: Roots to the Earth

Author: Wendell Berry

Illustrator: Wesley Bates

Copyright: 2014 (Wendell Berry), published 2016 by Counterpoint-Berkeley


Hello, everyone. It's been a long week. I don't know what kind of good things or bad have happened in your own weeks, but I hope you've been able to rest a little today, in preparation for tomorrow. Hope is always on the horizon, yes? I'm banking on it. 

So I didn't have time to finish last week's book, The Accidental Tourist, and as Friday arrived (two days ago), and I realized I hadn't dappled into much of any literature, I decided I'd just read a short book of poetry, and call it good. 

Poetry is good. In the past I've been told that reading poetry helps a person slow down and learn to hear words differently, and feel images as much as see them. It's kind of crazy, how phonetics work. (That reminds me of those advertisements from back in my childhood for that reading system, "Hooked on Phonics." I always used to wonder if it worked. . . ). I am constantly surprised at the effects which different words can have on people--both the sound of words, and the meanings. 

Take, for instance, the word "moist." 

I know many people who loathe the sound of this. But by definition, it implies richness, healthiness, something that is well-watered. But, ugh, it's that "o-i" combination which is just plain. . . shivery. 

And then there are words like "undulate," "serene," "embassy," "serendipitous," and "ethereal." Generally, words without hard consonants, sharp "t's" or "k's." 

Poetry is the art of combining words to create a deeply meaningful image that expresses a feeling, a moment in time, or a philosophical idea about how the world works and the greater meaning of life. 

Wendell Berry's books, (and there are over 50, fiction, nonfiction and poetry combined), are varied in their style. But overall, I can safely say that Berry's cheif-most goal is to write words of great integrity. I believe he's trying to paint images that point to a greater good, a good essentially found in the earth, creation, and re-creation. 

Roots to the Earth is worth reading at some point in your life. You may not have come from a family that has roots to farming (like I do), but whether you do or you don't, Berry's drawing links to what it means to be bound to soil, to seeds, and to the fruit of those seeds. We have come from the earth, we'll return to it. 

Here's a brief excerpt from his poem entitled "The Man Born To Farming":

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, / whose hands reach into the ground and sprout, to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death / yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down /  in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn. 

. . . anyway, folks. Poetry. It's pretty good. Hope you can read some this week. 

Cheers and blessings to you,