Gary Snyder’s Practice of the Wild

gary snyder woodpile

Lawrence Ferlinghetti called Gary Snyder the “Thoreau of the Beat Generation.” He’s that, and after a lifetime of poetry, prose, and teaching, he’s become much, much more. His poetry is steeped in the western landscape, but clearly has roots in the traditions of Buddhism, Chinese poetry, and haiku. His major works of prose (A Place in Space and The Practice of the Wild) celebrates the simple act of living in place, no matter where that might be.

If you would like to learn more about Gary Snyder visit the indispensable Poetry Foundation website (it’s great!), and if you’re looking for a grand overview of his work, check out The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations, 1952-1998. But for now, here’s one of our favorite poems:

For the Children

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island

and in honor of National Poetry Month, here’s a few Gary Snyder volumes from our poetry shelves!

riprapearth houseturtle islandmts & rivers
Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, Earth House Hold, Turtle Island, Mountains and Rivers Without End

Gary Snyder has also collaborated with artist Tom Killion on two classic studies focused on particular landscapes. We hope to return to both of these exceptional books in future posts:
high sierrakilliontamalpais
The High Sierra of California, Tamalpais Walking: Poetry, History, and Prints

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