A Piece of the Wild

The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
Waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

from Openings: Poems (1968)

For as long as I have known this poem, I have loved its ability to imbue a sense of calm and serenity, when the world around me feels as though it’s spinning off its axis.

During the past few weeks, a small group of us lived in the poem daily, as we prepared to perform it as a section of Once Upon Our Time during the Wakefield TaDa Festival. We never tired of it, as we found the stillness, the centering of our bodies, and our connections to each other.

With thanks to fellow dancers: Pat Cummings, Brenda-Lee Wilson, Teresa Bandrowska, Louise Chatelain, Paula Dugdale and Jon Pierce; rehearsal director Elizabeth Emond-Stephenson; and Theatre Wakefield’s Co-Chair, Andrea Rowe. Special thanks to Tedd Robinson, original stick dancer, who facilitated the first phase of the process.