A Conversation with Wendell Berry

Mar 26, 2016

Wendell Berry very rarely gives television interviews, but in 2013 he agreed to sit down with Bill Moyers as part of a conference at St. Catharine's College. Take 40 minutes to watch this. Berry speaks on topics close to his heart, and he reads several poems aloud. It's worth the watch just for that! My favorite moment is when he is moved to tears reading one of his own poems. Beautiful.

Watch here.

A Poem on Hope

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old, 
for hope must not depend on feeling good 
and there’s the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight. 
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality 
of the future, which surely will surprise us, 
and hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction 
anymore than by wishing. But stop dithering. 
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them? 
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit 
our places, the forests are ruined, the fields, eroded, 
the streams polluted, the mountains, overturned. Hope 
then to belong to your place by your own knowledge 
of what it is that no other place is, and by 
your caring for it, as you care for no other place, this 
knowledge cannot be taken from you by power or by wealth. 
It will stop your ears to the powerful when they ask 
for your faith, and to the wealthy when they ask for your land
and your work.  Be still and listen to the voices that belong 
to the stream banks and the trees and the open fields.

Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet. 
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground underfoot. 
The world is no better than its places. Its places at last 
are no better than their people while their people 
continue in them. When the people make 
dark the light within them, the world darkens.

–Wendell Berry

Angelina Stanford

Angelina Stanford

Angelina Stanford has an MA in English literature from the University of Louisiana, graduating Phi Kappa Phi, and has taught in various Christian classical classrooms for over 20 years.  She is currently teaching the Great Books online to high school students at the Harvey Center for Family Learning and recently joined the online faculty of the Circe Academy.  She’s also the co-star of the popular Circe podcast “Close Reads.”  She has a particular interest in myths, fairy tales, and understanding literature through the study of mythological archetypes and biblical typologies—as well as a mild obsession with the influence of Celtic fairy stories and Celtic Christianity on the development of British literature.  She also has a more than mild obsession with Wendell Berry.​​

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership.

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