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About this poet

Gary Snyder was born on May 8, 1930, in San Francisco.

He has published numerous books of poetry and prose, including Danger on Peaks (Counterpoint Press, 2005)The Gary Snyder Reader (1952-1998) (1999); Mountains and Rivers Without End (1997); No Nature: New and Selected Poems (1993), which was a finalist for the National Book Award; The Practice of the Wild (1990); Left Out in the Rain, New Poems 1947-1985; Axe Handles (1983), for which he received an American Book Award; Turtle Island (1974), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry; Regarding Wave (1970); and Myths & Texts (1960).

Snyder has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Bollingen Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Prize from Poetry, the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Times, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the Shelley Memorial Award. Snyder was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2003.

He was the recipient of the 2012 Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement by the Academy of American Poets. He is a professor of English at the University of California, Davis.

Mother Earth: Her Whales

An owl winks in the shadows
A lizard lifts on tiptoe, breathing hard
Young male sparrow stretches up his neck,
                   big head, watching—

The grasses are working in the sun. Turn it green.
Turn it sweet. That we may eat.
Grow our meat.

Brazil says “sovereign use of Natural Resources”
Thirty thousand kinds of unknown plants.
The living actual people of the jungle
        sold and tortured—
And a robot in a suit who peddles a delusion called “Brazil”
        can speak for them?

        The whales turn and glisten, plunge
                and sound and rise again,
        Hanging over subtly darkening deeps
        Flowing like breathing planets
              in the sparkling whorls of
                     living light—

And Japan quibbles for words on
        what kinds of whales they can kill?
A once-great Buddhist nation
        dribbles methyl mercury
        like gonorrhea
                      in the sea.

Pere David's Deer, the Elaphure,
Lived in the tule marshes of the Yellow River
Two thousand years ago—and lost its home to rice—
The forests of Lo-yang were logged and all the silt &
Sand flowed down, and gone, by 1200 AD—
Wild Geese hatched out in Siberia
        head south over basins of the Yang, the Huang,
        what we call “China”
On flyways they have used a million years.
Ah China, where are the tigers, the wild boars,
                   the monkeys,
                      like the snows of yesteryear
Gone in a mist, a flash, and the dry hard ground
Is parking space for fifty thousand trucks.
IS man most precious of all things?
—then let us love him, and his brothers, all those
Fading living beings—

North America, Turtle Island, taken by invaders
        who wage war around the world.
May ants, may abalone, otters, wolves and elk
Rise! and pull away their giving
        from the robot nations.

Solidarity. The People.
Standing Tree People!
Flying Bird People!
Swimming Sea People!
Four-legged, two-legged people!

How can the head-heavy power-hungry politic scientist
Government     two-world     Capitalist-Imperialist
Third-world     Communist      paper-shuffling male
             non-farmer     jet-set     bureaucrats
Speak for the green of the leaf? Speak for the soil?

(Ah Margaret Mead . . . do you sometimes dream of Samoa?)

The robots argue how to parcel out our Mother Earth
To last a little longer
                    like vultures flapping
Belching, gurgling,
                    near a dying doe.
“In yonder field a slain knight lies—
We'll fly to him and eat his eyes
                    with a down
         derry derry derry down down.”

             An Owl winks in the shadow
             A lizard lifts on tiptoe
                         breathing hard
             The whales turn and glisten
                         plunge and
             Sound, and rise again
             Flowing like breathing planets

             In the sparkling whorls

             Of living light.

                      Stockholm: Summer Solstice 40072

From Turtle Island. Copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

From Turtle Island. Copyright © 1974 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder

The author of numerous books of poetry and prose, former Chancellor Gary Snyder won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the 2012 Wallace Stevens Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, among others.

by this poet

poem
He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
        behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of
poem
Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest

I slept under     rhododendron
All night    blossoms fell
Shivering on	a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck   in my pack
Hands deep    in my pockets
Barely  able    to   sleep.
I remembered    when we were in school
Sleeping together   in a big warm bed
We were     the