Plough Logo

Shopping Cart

  View Cart



Water at the Roots

Poems and Insights of a Visionary Farmer

Foreword by David Kline, edited by Jennifer Harries

4.08 Stars on Goodreads Read Reviews

In a society uprooted by two world wars, industrialization, and dehumanizing technology, a revolutionary farmer turns to poetry to reconnect his people to the land and one another.

Read a Sample Find at a nearby independent bookstore
Available Formats:
Ebook Once you place your order you will be able to choose from 3 e-book formats: Epub, Mobi and Pdf.

Get the ebook free by subscribing to Plough Quarterly. Learn More

About The Book

Watch the book trailer.

“One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.” – Joel Salatin

In a society uprooted by war, industrialization, hate-filled ideology, and dehumanizing technology, Philip Britts sought a way of life where people could work together in harmony with the land and one another.

A farmer, poet, activist, pastor, and mystic, Britts (1917–1949) has been called a British Wendell Berry. His story is no romantic agrarian elegy, but a life lived in the thick of history. As his country plunged headlong into World War II, he joined an international pacifist community, the Bruderhof, and was soon forced to leave Europe for South America.

Amidst these great upheavals, his response – to root himself in faith, to dedicate himself to building community, to restore the land he farmed, and to use his gift with words to turn people from their madness – speaks forcefully into our time.  In an age still wracked by racism, nationalism, materialism, and ecological devastation, the life he chose and the poetry he composed remain a prophetic challenge.

Jennifer Harries, a member of the Bruderhof, was born in Llansamlet, Wales, and now lives in New York.

trailer for Water At The Roots: an image of someone with a pick-axe against the sunset


View Table of Contents


Reader Reviews Write a Review

Write a Review

Table of Contents


To the Reader

Part I: Wilderness

  1. Look up to see if the God I serve has seen
  2. Am I dreaming in this wilderness?
  3. We heard a call and hurried here
    Poem: Carol of the Seekers

Part II: Ploughing

  1. It’s time that the soil was turned
  2. Now is the harvest of death
    Poem: The Hour on Which We Look
  3. Let there be no fallow in my heart
  4. One with thy brothers in the quest

Part III: Planting

  1. Not only the wonder of reaping
    Poem: “That my white lamb
    Poem: A Song of Isaiah
  2. Fighting on towards the kingdom
    Poem: Harvest Lullaby

Part IV: Cultivating

  1. Here on earth, in your own land
    Poem: “Down the years a murmur runneth
  2. The longest drought shall pass
    Poem: “There is a calling
  3. Where are now the roses of the land?
  4. Finding the source-water
    Poem: Song for the Present Day

Part V: Harvesting

  1. Something less visible than the atom
  2. Some work beyond our human power
    Excerpt: In the Time of the Breaking of Nations
  3. Here is a mystery
    Excerpt: Behind Nature
  4. Like water at the roots
  5. Quicken the seed


You May Also Like