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by Wendell Berry

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Berry's first collection since 1987 reads like a compilation taken from the years since, including occasional pieces, political satire and what seem like sketches. The influences are as diverse as Blake, Williams, and the later Yeats (``He served with mind and hand / What we were hoping for: / The small house on the land, / The shade tree by the door''). Berry's poems are united less by an aesthetic than an ethic, composed of respect for the earth and its people and a conviction that one must speak out against whatever forces stand in opposition: ``The spool of our engine-driven fate / unwinds, our history now outspeeding / thought, and the heart is a beatable tool.'' The poetry's general lack of metaphor leads to some drily rhetorical writing: ``It is the stewardship / of its own possibility, / the past remembering itself / in the presence of / the present, the power, learned / and handed down, to see / what is present.'' Yet Berry's observations (here, of a thunderstorm) can be acute: ``Out our window we glimpsed the world / birthwet and shining, as even / the sun at noon had never made it shine.'' The last section of poems about his father is most powerful. One appreciates that Berry's writing about aging is not designed to comfort, but only to tell the truth about the last stage of his father's life, ``when immortal love / In flesh, denying time, will look / At what is lost, and grief fulfill / The budget of desire. Sometimes, / At home, he longs to be at home.'' (May)
Library Journal
This latest volume from farmer-poet Berry has all the brevity and bite of personal diary entries. He celebrates the rural world of ``garden, smokehouse...cellar,/granary, crib, and loft,'' a place where the seed pods of touch-me-nots contain magical ``coil springs'' and a beautiful curl defines the ``plume in the drake's tail.'' But set against this world of bucolic joy is the society of people who ``breathe poisoned air, drink poisoned water, eat/poisoned food.'' According to Berry, we live in an age of ``madness'' that has ``politicized/everything but politics.'' So these poems contain an ethical charge, exhorting us all, even ``anglo-saxon protestant heterosexual'' men, to live the best of all possible lives. This higher life of ``compassion and forgiveness'' explains the many poignant love poems and elegies in Entries because ``it's love that keeps the world alive.'' Highly recommended for all poetry collections.-Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, Ill.

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Counterpoint Press
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4.94(w) x 7.93(h) x 0.34(d)

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