Shoemaker & Hoard

Wendell Berry

In his 15th collection of poems, Wendell Berry’s precise language combines with affection for his subjects for energizing, spiritual, renewing results. It’s a welcome relief from the white noise of the contemporary American poetry scene. “Sonata at Payne Hollow,” a play-in-verse continuation of Berry’s chronicle of country life, forms the central section. It’s surrounded by shorter poems, many of which are meditations. This is especially true of the poems in the final section, “Sabbaths 1998-2004,” which Berry composed, fittingly enough, on the Sabbath, still taken by some as a day of rest and reflection. His unobtrusive use of form grants these poems an easy grace, fitting for anyone who, like Berry, occasionally “finds that he is smiling / not by his own will.”