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Merton's Correspondence with:

Wendell Berry

Berry, Wendell, 1934-  printer


Descriptive Summary

Record Group: Section A - Correspondence
Dates of materials: 1967-1968
Volume: 9 item(s); 9 pg(s)

Scope and Content

This set of correspondence contains nine letters between two like-minded poets and authors. In his correspondence with Berry, one can see seeds of Merton's interest in the environment. One can only guess at the directions in this vein that his friendship with Berry might have led him. Among the letters are original typed and handwritten letters by Berry, and carbon copies of Merton's letters.


Wendell Berry is a farmer and writer of poetry, novels, prose, and essays. He writes to Merton from Port Royal, Kentucky. Themes in his writings include concern for the land, environmental conservation, the value of work, and the culture of agricultural communities. Merton began a correspondence with Berry as he began to come of his own as a poet and author. Berry had returned to a family farm in his native Kentucky and was a professor at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Merton could appreciate Berry's simple life of nature and solitude on a farm and employing traditional agricultural means, both critical of the effects of modern farm machinery on rural life. Though Berry claimed that his poems could only loosely be considered haiku, Merton referred to them as such and included some in his magazine Monks Pond. Berry shared Merton's opposition to Vietnam and knew many of Merton's friends from Lexington.

Usage Guidelines and Restrictions

Please click here for general restrictions concerning Merton's correspondence.

Related Information and Links

See also contributions to Monks Pond, pp. 96 and 215.

Other Finding Aids

If the person in correspondence with Merton has full text records in the Merton Center Digital Collections, there will be a numeric link to them below.

Series List

This Record Sub-Group is not divided into Series and is arranged chronologically.

Container List

Click icons for links: ✓="Published | Library Record", ✉="Scanned" | 🗷="Scanned, Viewable Only at Merton Center"

#DateFrom/ToFirst LinesPub ✓Notes
 y/m/dMerton Scan ✉ 
1. 1967/10/24 HLS to Merton Denise Levertov thinks it would be great to see you at Gethsemani when she's here on Sunday, Dec. 10 possible meeting at Gethsemani with Denise Levertov, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Madelyn Meatyard, Guy and Bonnie [Davenport?] «detailed view»
2. 1967/10/26 TL[c] from Merton Thanks for your note about Denise Levertov and the possibility of her visit here on Sunday December plans for meeting at Gethsemani «detailed view»
3. 1968/01/31 TL[c] from Merton What keeps me from writing more is that I never know if Port Royal Kentucky is enough of an address. question about Berry's address / plans to use monastic press to publish a magazine of poetry and short prose - Monks Pond - "I don't think a monastic press should be confined to cheese and liturgy." / Asian, Indian, and African texts - Zen texts / proposed visit by Harry Caudill «detailed view»
4. 1968/02/07 HLS to Merton The home address is Port Royal, Ky. 40058. And that's usually the best one to use. Berry speaking at Kentucky Conference on the War and the Draft / Monks Pond / talking with Harry Caudill about scandal of strip mining «detailed view»
5. 1968/02/11 TLS to Merton These have all been written since the first of the year. The little poems can be called haiku only response to copy of Merton's "Comment: re FORUM" - likes Merton's idea of living as an experiment of a "non-organization man" / observations of a woodpecker / Conference on the War at the University of Kentucky - conference had an early Christian feeling «detailed view»
6. 1968/02/28 TL[c] from Merton Many thanks for the fine poems. I want to try the two longer ones and the little Feb.2. in the next likes winter Haiku, but does not want to use them until the season of winter returns / asks for contributor's notes / proposes get-together after Easter (after April 14th) «detailed view»
7. 1968/04/08 TLS to Merton I enclose a check, a blank for transfer of copyright on the poem "Envoy" that you accepted for check for "Envoy" poem for Monks Pond / hopes to visit Gethsemani in the spring «detailed view»
8. 1968/04/22 TL[c] from Merton The second issue is in the works with envoy etc and I will in due course send the form along to copyright / Robert Lax at a college in South Dakota - will not be free until June - proposes meeting then «detailed view»
9. 1968/08/06 HLS to Merton We're trying to get ready to leave here for the West Coast on the 20th of this month. We hoped to sending some winter haiku from before / poem from book on farming «detailed view»

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