small portion of actuality which can bernmeditated on and explored. Windowsrncan work wonders, the protected, projectivernprocess, the gift received and returned.rnOne recalls the brilliant windowrnpaintings of Pierre Bonnard and HenrirnMatisse, and remembers what a usefulrnmetaphor the window is for any artist.rnThe overall tone of the collection isrnelegiac and admonitory, and why wouldrnit not be for a poet who so loves the landrnand the historic presence on it and hasrnseen so much of it desecrated and disavowed?rnI said in an essay (“DonaldrnDavidson and the Dynamics of Nostalgia”)rnin the Georgia Review that nostalgiarnis one of the valid ways of looking at life,rnparticularly in the 20th century. Davidson,rnwho was also at his best in his longrnpoems, made a compelling case of how,rnlooking backward, we may be persuadedrnto change and look forward. Berry, inrnfact, is more like him, though their stylesrnand techniques are different, than likernany of the other Agrarians, Ransom,rnTate, and Warren, who abandoned theirrnstand and went on to what they consideredrnmore tenable and richer endeavors,rnwearing their high art and erudition onrntheir sleeves. They can be said, finally, tornhave been “aristocratic” in their oudook,rnand the democracy around them, notrnyielding to their pressures, left themrnnowhere to go except back to art itself,rnwhich they proceeded to analyze, defend,rnand create with brilliance. ButrnDavidson stayed on, stayed firm aboutrnhis beliefs, a perfect and poignant examplernof a fugitive from contemporaryrnAmerica who, in the midst of his regret,rnhad some wise things to say about it.rnBerry is less plaintive and wistful thanrnDavidson, but the big difference is thatrnhe “went to ground,” literally and figuratively,rnto test his argument in achial experience.rnSuch commitment takes a good dealrnof courage when people of your own agernare deserting the farms in droves, and itrnsets up conflict and tension in the poet.rnThe alien world seeps in despite carefulrnscreening, and, when it does. Berry canrnsound curiously like Robinson Jeffers,rnthough he does not have Jeffers’ long,rnsweeping lines and opulent rhetoric.rn”Dark with Power” and the poem thatrnfollows it, “The Want of Peace,” illustraternthat the farmer-poet has somethingrnin common with the brooding sage ofrnthe West:rnDark with power, we remainrnthe invaders of our land, leavingrndeserts where forests were,rnscars where there were hills.rnOn the moimtains, on the rivers,rnon the cities, on the farmlandsrnwe lay weighted hands, our breathrnpotent with the death of all things.rnPray to us, farmers and villagersrnof Vietnam. Pray to us, mothersrnand children of helpless countries.rnAsk for nothing.rnWe are carried in the bellyrnof what we have becomerntoward the shambles of ourrntriumph,rnfar from the quiet houses.rnFed with dying, we gazernon our might’s monuments of fire.rnThe world dangles from usrnwhile we gaze.rnThis deep look into the darkness isrnheartening in a poet who may seem tornthose of a different persuasion a bit toornconfident and “convinced.” Anotherrnshock of recognition of the otherness ofrnthings comes in a fine poem, “Meditationrnin the Spring Rain,” about “crazyrnold Mrs. Gaines” who was kept intermittentiyrnin a cage built for her by her familyrnin a “shadowy country / that she knew,rnholding a darkness that was past / and arndarkness to come,” her tragicomic shibboleth,rn”One Lord, one Faith, and onernCornbread.” Berry identifies with her,rnand says, “For I too am perhaps a littlernmad, / standing here wet in the drizzle,rnlistening / to the clashing syllables of thernwater. Surely / there is a great Word beingrnput together here. . . . For a timernthere / I turned away from the words Irnknew, and was lost. / For a time I was lostrnand free, speechless / in the multitudinousrnassembling of his Word.”rnFarm policy falls away in the depths ofrnsuch “shadowy country.” As we all try tornsynthesize our lives, we are called on notrnto be too sure, remembering Goethe’srn”Gray is all Theory, only the Tree of Lifernis green.” Berry understands this too,rnand not infrequently his point of view,rnfree of the programmatic, flourishes,rndeepens, into love, passion, even a quietrnecstasy, and this is when his poetry isrnmost vital. It is hard not to go along withrnhis credo as he states it in “The ManrnBorn to Farming,” one of the best shortrnpoems:rnThe grower of trees, the gardener,rnthe man born to farmingrnWhose hands reach late into thernground and sprout,rnto him the soil is a divine drug. Hernenters into deathrnand comes back rejoicing. He hasrnseen the light lie downrnin the dung heap, and rise again inrnthe corn.rnHis thought passes along the rowrnends like a mole.rnWhat miraculous seed has hernswallowedrnthat the unending sentence of hisrnlove flows out of his mouthrnlike a vine climbing in the sunlight,rnand like waterrndescending in the dark?rnIt is not easy to quote from Berry since,rnas I have said, most of his best poems arernlong, and it is the whole performancernthat counts. Consequentiy, I should atrnleast mention for the reader’s interestrnand delectation those long poems I particularlyrnadmire in addition to “WindowrnPoems”: “To a Siberian Woodsman,”rn”History,” “The Gountry of Marriage,”rnand “Testament.”rnFor a poet who often reminds one of arncharacter in an old-fashioned novel.rnBerry’s prosody, by contrast, is modern,rneven of the moment, employing mainlyrnshort lines, and with capitals only at thernbeginning of sentences that have supplenessrnand grace, only now and then stubbingrntheir toes on the too prosaic. Hernowes a good deal of his rhythm andrnmovement to William Garlos Williams,rnwho seems to have fathered this kind ofrnverse in many of today’s poets, and, inrnfact, late in the book there is a poemrn(which was, incidentally, originally publishedrnin Chronicles) entitied “In a MotelrnParking Lot, Thinking of Dr. Williams.”rnBy contrast, and helping to balancernthis effect, several poems, notably “Testament,”rn”The Glear Days,” and “Requiem,”rnshow that Berry can handlernrhyme and meter. These are welcome ifrnfor no other reason than that they varyrnthe tone of the book, reminding us thatrnRobert Frost said one of the reasons forrnwriting poems was to make them “allrnsound different.”rnFrost, not only in prosody but in persona,rnis an interesting contrast to Berry.rnFrost was my teacher at Harvard and arnfriend until his death, and I had an opportimityrnto observe him at close quarters.rnHe lived on a farm off and on andrnJUNE 1999/31rnrnrn