Wendell Berry, born in 1934, is a prolific writer and environmental activist, advocating for harmony between humans and nature, rooted in personal activism.
As an English graduate from the University of Kentucky and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Berry transformed his family’s 125-acre homestead in Kentucky into a source of inspiration for his poetry, essays and novels.
A firm believer in the idea that work should be deeply connected to one’s place, Berry’s writing reflects his lived experiences.
He has actively participated in civil disobedience against war, nuclear power plant constructions and coal as an energy source, highlighting his alignment of thought and action.
A champion for small-scale farming and local economies, he criticizes agribusiness for its destructive impact on rural communities and the environment.
Berry has made a significant mark on environmental discourse, living up to his ideals in both his public and private life.
I have compiled the top quotes from Wendell Berry for you.
Best Wendell Berry Quotes
1. “The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
2. “If you eat, you are involved in agriculture.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
3. “What I stand for is what I stand on.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
4. “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).
5. “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).
6. “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).
7. “In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter, war spreading, families dying, the world in danger, I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
8. “A Sustainable Agriculture does not deplete soils or people.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
9. “The earth is what we all have in common.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
10. “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
11. “Eating is an agricultural act.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
12. “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).
13. “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).
14. “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).
15. “We don’t have a right to ask whether we’re going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what’s the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?” ~ (Wendell Berry).
16. “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
17. “To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
18. “Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
19. “It is no more possible to live in the future than it is to live in the past. If life is not now, it is never.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
20. “The Christian gospel is a summons to peace, calling for justice beyond anger, mercy beyond justice, forgiveness beyond mercy, love beyond forgiveness.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
Popular Wendell Berry Quotes
21. “The mind that is not baffled, is unemployed.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
22. “Be joyful because it is humanly possible.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
23. “A good community insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help. A good community, in other words, is a good local economy.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
24. “We live the given life, and not the planned.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
25. “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
26. “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).
27. “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).
28. “A viable neighborhood is a community: and a viable community is made up of neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
29. “There is much good work to be done by every one of us and we must begin to do it.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
30. “And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
31. “We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
Top Wendell Berry Quotes
32. “But the only possible guarantee of the future is responsible behavior in the present.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
33. “We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
34. “The incarnate Word is with us, is still speaking, is present always, yet leaves no sign but everything that is.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
35. “To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
36. “Violence breeds violence. Acts of violence committed in “justice” or in affirmation of “rights” or in defense of “peace” do not end violence. They prepare and justify its continuation.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
37. “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).
38. “It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
39. “I go among trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
40. “In losing stewardship we lose fellowship; we become outcasts from the great neighborhood of creation.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
41. “Thinking is the most overrated human activity.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
42. “Under the pavement the dirt is dreaming of grass.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
43. “The ecological principle in agriculture is to connect the genius of the place, to fit the farming to the farm.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
44. “What can’t be helped must be endured.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
45. “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).
46. “A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
47. “Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
48. “A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
49. “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).
50. “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).
51. “Physical health doesn’t exist apart from the health of other things. Health ultimately involves the community, and the community ultimately involves the place and natural life of that place, so that real health is harmony with the world.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
52. “You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
53. “The poem is important, but not more than the people whose survival it serves…” ~ (Wendell Berry).
54. “I would like you to show me, if you can, where the line can be drawn between an organism and it’s environment. The environment is in you. It’s passing through you. You’re breathing it in and out. You and every other creature.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
55. “The cloud is free only to go with the wind. The rain is free only in falling.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
56. “I’d rather rely on mother nature’s wisdom than man’s cleverness.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
57. “Willing to die you give up your will; keep still, until moved by what moves all else, you move.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
Famous Wendell Berry Quotes
58. “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).
59. “Eaters must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
60. “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). 11. “Nature is always trying to tell us that we are not so superior or independent or alone or autonomous as we may think.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
61. “The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and wasteful.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
62. “Our land passes in and out of our bodies just as our bodies pass in and out of our land.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
63. “You can’t know where life will take you, but you can commit to a direction.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
64. “The more artificial a human environment becomes, the more the word ‘natural’ becomes a term of value.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
65. “For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
Short Wendell Berry Quotes
66. “There are some things the arrogant mind does not see; it is blinded by its vision of what it desires.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
67. “To be sane in a mad time is bad for the brain, worse for the heart.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
68. “We know enough of our own history by now to be aware that people exploit what they have merely concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love. To defend what we love we need a particularizing language, for we love what we particularly know.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
69. “To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
70. “I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
71. “Don’t pray for the rain to stop; pray for good luck fishing when the river floods.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
72. “Education in the true sense, of course, is an enablement to serve-both the living human community in its natural household or neighborhood and the precious cultural possessions that the living community inherits or should inherit.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
73. “The only sustainable city – and this, to me, is the indispensable ideal and goal – is a city in balance with its countryside.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
74. “If we represent knowledge as a tree, we know that things that are divided are yet connected. We know that to observe the divisions and ignore the connections is to destroy the tree.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
75. “We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” ~ (Wendell Berry).
76. “Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
77. “All right, every day ain’t going to be the best day of your life, don’t worry about that. If you stick to it you hold the possibility open that you will have better days.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
78. “You cannot affirm the power plant and condemn the smokestack, or affirm the smoke and condemn the cough.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
79. “Ask the world to reveal its quietude- not the silence of machines when they are still, but the true quiet by which birdsongs, trees, bellworts, snails, clouds, storms become what they are, and are nothing else.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
80. “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).
81. “Specialization is the great evil of civilization.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
82. “A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
83. “A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
84. “A teacher’s major contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student’s grandchild.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
85. “Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
86. “Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
87. “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).
88. “Why I am NOT going to buy a computer.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
89. “Our model citizen is a sophisticate who, before puberty, understands how to produce a baby, but who at the age of thirty will not know how to produce a potato.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
90. “Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
91. “I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
92. “The life we want is not merely the one we have chosen and made. It is the one we must be choosing and making.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
93. “How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
94. “The securest guarantee of the long-term good health of both farmland and city is, I believe, locally produced food.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
95. “An economy genuinely local and neighborly offers to localities a measure of security that they cannot derive from a national or a global economy controlled by people who, by principle, have no local commitment.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
96. “People need to feed themselves, next they need to feed their own communities.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
97. “You can’t be a critic by simply being a griper. One has also to search out the examples of good work.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
98. “It is a horrible fact that we can read in the daily paper, without interrupting our breakfast, numerical reckonings of death and destruction that ought to break our hearts or scare us out of our wits.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
99. “If you start a conversation with the assumption that you are right or that you must win, obviously it is difficult to talk.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
100. “But the sower going forth to sow sets foot into time to come, the seeds falling on his own place. He has prepared a way for his life to come to him, if it will. Like a tree, he has given roots to the earth, and stands free.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
101. “The river is of the earth and it is free. It is rigorously embanked and bound, and yet it is free. To hell with restraint, it says, I have got to be going. It will grind out its dams. It will go over or around them. They will become pieces.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
102. “It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
103. “At night make me one with the darkness. In the morning make me one with the light.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
104. “Sit and be still until in the time of no rain you hear beneath the dry wind’s commotion in the trees the sound of flowing water among the rocks, a stream unheard before, and you are where breathing is prayer.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
105. “You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.” I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
106. “Love changes, and in change is true.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
107. “The teachers are everywhere. What is wanted is a learner.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
108. “Unexpected wonders happen, not on schedule, or when you expect or want them to happen, but if you keep hanging around, they do happen.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
109. “He never complained. He seemed to have no instinct for the making much of oneself that complaining requires.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
110. “We can grow good wheat and make good bread only if we understand that we do not live by bread alone.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
111. “The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement the soil is dreaming of grass.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
112. “Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
113. “The latest technology is not always good for anything except to the producers of the technology.” ~ (Wendell Berry).
114. “To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark.” ~ (Wendell Berry).