by Levi Asher Monday, July 25, 1994 02:03 pm
You have to be careful writing about Gary Snyder, because he's such a Zen guy you get the feeling anything you write will be vastly inferior to silence.
Her lithe legThe whole book is a journey, and each successive poem leads the reader (in this case, me) a little further; it's definitely not a random collection that can be skipped through at will. Reading the entire collection is an experience akin to going on a pleasantly challenging hike with a knowledgeable guide who loves the land he travels. The path Snyder takes here goes from the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens to reflections on people -- friends and family -- he's known to the Taliban's destruction of the large Buddhas in Bamiyan and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Near the beginning of the book, he writes of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and says in the poem "Atomic Dawn":
danger on peaks
Horrified, blaming scientists and politicians and the governments of the world, I swore a vow to myself, something like, "By the purity and beauty and permanence of Mt. St. Helens, I will fight against this cruel destructive power and those who would seek to use it, for all my life."I think this book is a testament to that. Whether it's more direct, as in the poems in the "After Bamiyan" section, or less so, like the poems written about friends and family, the book is constructive and respectful, understanding of life, both in place and part of a whole.
For Philip Zenshin WhalenThough our roles may change, we're all part of something. Gary Snyder does well to remind us.
d. 26 June 2002
(and for 33 pine trees)
Load of logs
chains cinched down and double-checked
the truck heads slowly up the hill
I will think of you
pines from this mountain
as you shelter people in the Valley
years to come