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References to Darkness : A study of darkness in a selection of poems by Wendell Berry


  • Lars Norén

Summary, in English

The writer, farmer, Christian pacifist, and “eco-poet” Wendell Berry has written and published novels, essays, and poetry since early 1960s. Examples of recurring themes in Berry’s literary work are the close relationship between farmer and the earth, the importance of belonging to a place/community, and having trust in the Creation. Examples of imagery in his poetry are song/singing, birds, trees – and darkness. The literal meaning of darkness is ‘absence of light’, and assuming that the figurative meaning of darkness in Berry’s poetry on some level also refers to the earth/soil, this essay examines the imagery of darkness in a selection of Berry’s poems. Using close reading, the cluster of meanings referred to by the word ‘dark’ or any of its derivations has been studied in nine poems from seven poetry collections from 1964 to 1994. The conclusion shows that darkness is rarely just ‘absence of light’, but refers to a wide range of figurative meanings, the most prominent being the dark soil/earth with its potentiality to transform death into new life.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Wendell Berry
  • poetry
  • darkness
  • close reading
  • earth
  • soil
  • death
  • farming
  • figurative
  • imagery


  • Kiki Lindell