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Gary Sherman Snyder
born in San Francisco in 1930

What you should known to be a poet

Civilization

As for poets

Three poems for Joanne

  • growing up in Wahington State
  • worked in his parents' farm and seasonally in the woods
  • graduated in 1951 from Reed College
    (literature, anthropology)
  • brief stay at Indiana University
    at UC Berkeley Oriental laguages
  • acively involved in the new flowering of
    West Coast poetry
  • 1951 working as a trail crew laborer, the upper reaches of the Piute Creek drainage
  • participated in the Six gallery reading, the launching event of the Beat Movement
  • 1956 Kyoto, Japan, intensive Zen Buddhist practice
  • with Allen Ginsberg and others pilgrimage through India
  • 1969 back to USA, he built a house
    in the Sierra Nevada foothills
  • 1885 joining the faculty of UC Davis
Gary Sherman Snyder
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^up WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW TO BE A POET

all you can about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
names of stars, and the movements of the planets
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and the moon.

your own six senses, with a watchful and elegant mind.

at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;

dreams.
the illusory demons and illusory shining gods;

kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .and maidens perfum'd and golden—

& then love the human: wives. . .husbands. . .and friends.

children's games, comic books, bubble-gum,
the weirdness of television and advertising.

work, long dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and livd with and finally lovd. . . . exhaustion,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, extasy
silent solitary illumination, enstasy

real danger. . .gambles. . . and the edge of death.

form "Regarding Wave" 1967

CIVILIZATION

Those are the people who do complicated things.

. . . .they'll grab us by the thousands
. . . .and put us to work.
World's going to hell, with all these
. . . .villages and trails.
Wild duck flocks aren't
. . . .what they used to be.
Aurochs grow rare.

Fetch me my feathers and amber

. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .form "Regarding Wave" ("Target Practice") 1967

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AS FOR POETS

As for poets
The Earth Poets
Who write small poems,
Need help from no man.

The Air Poets
Play out the swiftest gales
And sometimes loll in the eddies.
Poem after poem,
Curling back on the same thrust.

At fifty below
Fuel oil won't flow
And propane stays in the tank.
Fire Poets
Burn at absolute zero
Fossil love pumped back up.

The first
Water Poet
Stayed down six years.
He was covered with seaweed.
The life in his poem
Left millions of tiny
Different tracks
Criss-crossing through the mud.

With the Sun and Moon
In his belly,
The Space Poet
Sleeps.
No end to the sky—
But his poems,
Like wild geese,
Fly off the edge.

A Mind Poet
Stays in the house.
The house is empty
And it has no walls.
The poem
Is seen from all sides,
Everywhere,
At once.

. . . . .. . . . . .. .. . . . . . . .. ..from "Turtle Islands" 1969

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THREE POEMS FOR JOANNE

1. LOVING WORDS

Her big basket
. . . .. . . .. blonde hair drawn back
. . . .. . . .. over the ears
a directoire, or jacobean feel
. . . .. . . .. last summer, on crutches
hobbling down the steep hill trail.
sitting beside the geraniums
marking the eucalyptus rustle—sea wind—
. . . .. . . .. . . . .. . . .. . . . .. . . .. listening
i was chopping wood around the comer
down the hill.
. . . .. . . ... . . .axe-sound
. . . .. . . ... . . .the bird
. . . .. . . ... . . .the wind
the snorting horses & the starting cars,

loving words—
. . . .. . . .."be true
to the poem"
nothing will shake that
. . . .. . . ... . . . fine commitment down.

2. THE HEART OF THE WOOD

The cool
. . . .clearing.
We have never seen
Such trees or
. . . .. . . ...flowers.
We are bare
In the open.
. . . .. . . ...here make
. . . .. . . ...our love
No one will
Watch us.
This place is
. .Too far
In.

3. JOANNE MY WIFE

Joanne my wife
why frown
long legs are lovely
. . . .. . . ..I like yr
. . . .. . . ..freckld breast
. . . .. . . ..you butt me at night
. . . .. . . . . . .. . ..asleep
cry out for mother
hurt wild
like child
in dreams
. . . .. . . ..I cd write you
. . . .no ,,love" poem
. . . .. . . . . .. .. ..so long.

fights and the frown
. . . . . .. .. .. . . ..at dawn.

from "Left out in the Rain" 1986

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