cover image Leavings


Wendell Berry, . . Counterpoint, $23 (132pp) ISBN 978-1-582435-34-3

In his 18th book of poems, Berry (Given ) rails against environmental destruction starting with the second poem: “While the land suffers, automobiles thrive.” He mixes philosophy, religion, politics, and personal experience in poems utilizing formal rhymes, spare jottings, and intimate letters. Most of the book is a long series inspired by Berry's regular Sunday morning walks. While Berry's various modes can make for interesting poetry, some of the poems here, particularly those that rely on a broad political brush, fall flat: “The nation in its error... //Destroys its land.” When hinging a poem on a “candle against the wind,” Berry should know he's on infertile ground. What still zings, though, are moments when this old man of letters surprises himself, as when Berry addresses his wife: “I love you as I loved you/ young, except that, old, I am astonished.” (Nov.)