Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of Wendell Berry's quotes on marriage, community, nature, environment, life, farming, religion, Christianity, peace, past, and much more.

99 Wendell Berry Quotes That Will Give You A Fresh Perspective

Quick Facts

Born On: August 5, 1934

Born In: Henry County

Wendell Berry is an American poet, cultural critic, environmental activist and novelist.  He lives on a farm that he has maintained in Port Royal, Kentucky, for about 40 years. A farmer by profession, Berry holds deep reverence for agrarian values, marital fidelity and traditions. Being mistrustful of technology, Wendell believes in the holiness of life. In his lifetime, he has written over 40 books comprising of essays, fiction and poetry. His beliefs and values are reflected in his life and works. His classics include 'The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture' that highlights the failure of modern, machine-based life, 'New Farm Magazine and Organic Gardening and Farming' and agricultural treatises that touch green aspects of farming. In 'The Broken Ground', he wrote about farm life and family bonds and 'The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture' traces the foundation of American culture on modern agriculture. In today's technological world, authors like Berry represent the beauty and simplicity of life. The prolific author is a recipient of 'Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement' award (2013), 'National Humanities Medal' and the Jefferson Lecturer in 2012. He's the first living writer to make it to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. There is so much we can learn from Berry’s commitment to simple living, and value of nature. We have excerpted some of Wendell Berry Quotes from his writings, his take on several subjects and everyday life. Here are some of Wendell Berry's most memorable quotes.
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Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.

Wendell Berry

Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.

Wendell Berry

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.

Wendell Berry

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.

Wendell Berry

You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it.

Wendell Berry

Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.

Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry

Be joyful because it is humanly possible.

Wendell Berry

A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.

Wendell Berry

Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.

Wendell Berry

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.

Wendell Berry

I don't believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.

Wendell Berry

There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.

Wendell Berry

What I stand for is what I stand on.

Wendell Berry

...And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye clear. What we need is here.

Wendell Berry

Let us have the candor to acknowledge that what we call "the economy" or "the free market" is less and less distinguishable from warfare.

Wendell Berry

The cloud is free only to go with the wind. The rain is free only in falling.

Wendell Berry

Eating is an agricultural act.

Wendell Berry

Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.

Wendell Berry

There comes . . . a longing never to travel again except on foot.

Wendell Berry

One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.

Wendell Berry

If you don't know where you're from, you'll have a hard time saying where you're going.

Wendell Berry

When going back makes sense, you are going ahead.

Wendell Berry

...the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.

Wendell Berry

Young lovers see a vision of the world redeemed by love. That is the truest thing they ever see, for without it life is death.

Wendell Berry

I have always loved a window, especially an open one.

Wendell Berry

If you can read and have more imagination than a doorknob, what need do you have for a 'movie version' of a novel?

Wendell Berry

I could die in peace, I think, if the world was beautiful. To know it's being ruined is hard.

Wendell Berry

Some nights in the midst of this loneliness I swung among the scattered stars at the end of the thin thread of faith alone.

Wendell Berry

After a while, though the grief did not go away from us, it grew quiet. What had seemed a storm wailing through the entire darkness seemed to come in at last and lie down.

Wendell Berry

The freedom of affluence opposes and contradicts the freedom of community life.

Wendell Berry

It is easy for me to imagine that the next great division of the world will be between people who wish to live as creatures and people who wish to live as machines.

Wendell Berry

If the devil doesn't exist... how do you explain that some people are a lot worse than they're smart enough to be?

Wendell Berry

People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.

Wendell Berry

Some of the best things I have ever thought of I have thought of during bad sermons.

Wendell Berry

Perhaps all the good that ever has come here has come because people prayed it into the world.

Wendell Berry

It is certain, I think, that the best government is the one that governs the least. But there is a much-neglected corollary: the best citizen is the one who least needs governing.

Wendell Berry

The Christian gospel is a summons to peace, calling for justice beyond anger, mercy beyond justice, forgiveness beyond mercy, love beyond forgiveness.

Wendell Berry

Battle with unconditioned breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensional life; stay away from screens.

Wendell Berry

The promoters of the global economy...see nothing odd or difficult about unlimited economic growth or unlimited consumption in a limited world.

Wendell Berry

Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.

Wendell Berry

There are moments when the heart is generous, and then it knows that for better or worse our lives are woven together here, one with one another and with the place and all the living things.

Wendell Berry

The mercy of the world is time. Time does not stop for love, but it does not stop for death and grief, either.

Wendell Berry

What can't be helped must be endured.

Wendell Berry

What could be more superstitious than the idea that money brings forth food?

Wendell Berry

A man with a machine and inadequate culture is a pestilence.

Wendell Berry

The mercy of the world is you don't know what's going to happen.

Wendell Berry

The past is our definition. We may strive with good reason to escape it or to escape what is bad in it but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.

Wendell Berry

He never complained. He seemed to have no instinct for the making much of oneself that complaining requires.

Wendell Berry

The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass.

Wendell Berry

The shoddy work of despair, the pointless work of pride, equally betray Creation. They are wastes of life.

Wendell Berry

Again I resume the long lesson: how small a thing can be pleasing, how little in this hard world it takes to satisfy the mind and bring it to its rest.

Wendell Berry

The music, while it lasted, brought a new world into being.

Wendell Berry

Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Wendell Berry

You don't need to be told some things. You can sometimes tell more by a man's silence and the set of his head than by what he says.

Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.

Wendell Berry

Charity even for one person does not make sense except in terms of an effort to love all Creation in response to the Creator's love for it.

Wendell Berry

To love anything good, at any cost, is a bargain.

Wendell Berry

It is impossible to prefigure the salvation of the world in the same language by which the world has been dismembered and defaced.

Wendell Berry

If we do not live where we work and when we work we are wasting our lives and our work too.

Wendell Berry

The Earth is what we all have in common.

Wendell Berry

The road is a word, conceived elsewhere and laid across the country in the wound prepared for it: a word made concrete and thrust among us.

Wendell Berry

To define knowledge as merely empirical is to limit one's ability to know; it enfeebles one's ability to feel and think.

Wendell Berry

The rule, acknowledged or not, seems to be that if we have great power we must use it. We would use a steam shovel to pick up a dime. We have experts who can prove there is no other way to do it.

Wendell Berry

He imagines a necessary joy in things that must fly to eat.

Wendell Berry

Beauty . . . cannot be interpreted. It is not an empirically verifiable fact; it is not a quantity.

Wendell Berry

For the true measure of agriculture is not the sophistication of its equipment the size of its income or even the statistics of its productivity but the good health of the land.

Wendell Berry

...I was a young man. I hardly knew what I knew, let alone what I was going to know.

Wendell Berry

The only true and effective "operator's manual for spaceship earth" is not a book that any human will ever write; it is hundreds of thousands of local cultures.

Wendell Berry

Waking up from a dream of violence is much the same as waking up from a dream of love. You must go on living your life.

Wendell Berry

I don't think I had even begun to have an idea where I was going, but wherever it was, that was where I wanted to go.

Wendell Berry

The language that reveals also obscures.

Wendell Berry

We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.

Wendell Berry

Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.

Wendell Berry

A man's life is always dealing with permanence, that is the most dangerous kind of irresponsibility is to think of your doings as temporary.

Wendell Berry

It is not a terrible thing to love the world, knowing that the world is always passing and irrecoverable, to be known only in loss. To love anything good, at any cost, is a bargain.

Wendell Berry

...Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed...

Wendell Berry

He loved the woods, where it seemed to him that every life was secret, including his own.

Wendell Berry

True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.

Wendell Berry

To mind being disliked by a woman you don’t desire and are not married to is yet another serious failure of common sense.

Wendell Berry

Thinking is the most overrated human activity.

Wendell Berry

When I rise up let me rise up joyful like a bird. When I fall let me fall without regret like a leaf.

Wendell Berry

No man will ever be whole and dignified and free except in the knowledge that the men around him are whole and dignified and free, and that the world itself is free of contempt and misuse.

Wendell Berry

Sabbath observance invites us to stop. It invites us to rest. It asks us to notice that while we rest, the world continues without our help. It invites us to delight in the world’s beauty and abundance.

Wendell Berry

The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry

We cannot know the whole truth, which belongs to God alone, but our task nevertheless is to seek to know what is true.

Wendell Berry

I had changed, and the sign of it was only that my own death seemed to me by far the least important thing in my life.

Wendell Berry

It's sad that we live in a society that has the refrain 'thank God it's Friday, that means you despise 5/7ths of your life.

Wendell Berry

We’ve all got to go through enough to kill us.

Wendell Berry

The crisis of community has its source in the corruption of character.

Wendell Berry

The world doesn't stop because you are in love or in mourning or in need of time to think. And so when I have thought I was in my story or in charge of it, I really have only been on the edge of it.

Wendell Berry

So it is that the life force may take possession of a man-- so that in the end he may be possessed by something greater, no longer at all belonging to himself.

Wendell Berry

It was a country . . . that he and his people had known how to use and abuse, but not how to preserve.

Wendell Berry

It surely is far better to be disliked by somebody you don't love than by somebody you do. Even so, I mind. Even so, failing to love somebody is a failure.

Wendell Berry

A tree forms itself in answer to its place and the light. Explain it how you will, the only thing explainable will be your explanation.” Sabbaths 1999 IV

Wendell Berry

Marriage has now taken the form of divorce: a prolonged and impassioned negotiation as to how things shall be divided. (from "Feminism, the Body, and the Machine")

Wendell Berry

The Satisfactions of the Mad Farmer...the quiet in the woods of a summer morning, the voice of a pewee passing through it like a tight silver wire; ...

Wendell Berry

This religion that scorned the beauty and goodness of this world was a puzzle to me.

Wendell Berry

Jesus' military career has never compelled my belief.

Wendell Berry