The Eager Dog Lies Strange and Still by Wendell Berry


The eager dog lies strange and still who roamed the woods with me; Then while I stood or climbed the hill Or sat under a tree,

Awaiting what more time might say, He thrashed in undergrowth, Pursuing what he scared away, Made ruckus for us both.

He’s dead; I go more quiet now, Stillness added to me By time and sorrow, mortal law, By loss of company


That his new absence has made new. Though it must come by doom, This quiet comes by kindness too, And brings me nearer home,

For as I walk the wooded land The morning of God’s mercy, Beyond the work of mortal hand, Seen by more than I see.

The quiet deer look up and wait, Held still in quick of grace. And I wait, stop footstep and thought. We stand here face to face.

From “Sabbaths” (North Point: $12.95, cloth; $6.95, paper; 112 pp.), a collection of meditative, formal, sometimes prayerlike poems written over seven years of Sabbaths, 1979-1986. Berry, who has lived and farmed in Henry County, Ky., for 30 years, is admired almost equally for his poetry, his fiction and his essays on a wide range of subjects, including, notably, agriculture. Berry makes the preservation of the land a kind of key to the preservation of sanity. He was recently the recipient of the Award of Merit from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.