“All Goes Back to the Earth”: The Poetry of Wendell Berry

Volume 7, Number 3, Fall 2001

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“All Goes Back to the Earth”: The Poetry of Wendell Berry

by Henry Taylor
Southern Cultures, Vol. 7, No.3: Fall 2001

"'We sell the world to buy fire . . . our way lighted by burning men.'"

The name of Wendell Berry first came to my attention about forty years ago. I was then a student at the University of Virginia and a part-time employee of Noonday Book Shop, where a book called November Twenty-Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Three enjoyed a brisk sale for several weeks. The text was a single poem by Wendell Berry; it had appeared in The Nation shortly after the assassination and funeral of President Kennedy. The artist Ben Shahn had seen it, and obtained permission to present it in his highly characteristic calligraphy, along with several original images invoked by the poem.

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