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Best Famous Gary Snyder Poems

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by Gary Snyder |

For/From Lew

 Lew Welch just turned up one day,
live as you and me. "Damn, Lew" I said,
"you didn't shoot yourself after all."
"Yes I did" he said,
and even then I felt the tingling down my back.
"Yes you did, too" I said—"I can feel it now."
"Yeah" he said,
"There's a basic fear between your world and
mine. I don't know why.
What I came to say was,
teach the children about the cycles.
The life cycles. All other cycles.
That's what it's all about, and it's all forgot."


by Gary Snyder |

December At Yase

 You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange,
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
 where you were—
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had 
Lived many lives.

And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
 karma demands.


by Gary Snyder |

Riprap

 Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
 placed solid, by hands
In coice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
 in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
 riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
 straying planets,
These poems, people,
 lost ponies with
Dragging saddles--
 and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
 four-dimensional
Game of Go.
 ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
 a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
 with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
 all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.


by Gary Snyder |

Axe Handles

 One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase 
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
 the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's We Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature" - in the
Preface: "In making the handle 
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.


by Gary Snyder |

For Lew Welch In A Snowfall

 Snowfall in March:
I sit in the white glow reading a thesis
About you. Your poems, your life.

The author's my student,
He even quotes me.

Forty years since we joked in a kitchen in Portland
Twenty since you disappeared.

All those years and their moments—
Crackling bacon, slamming car doors,
Poems tried out on friends,
Will be one more archive,
One more shaky text.

But life continues in the kitchen
Where we still laugh and cook,
Watching snow.


by Gary Snyder |

There Are Those Who Love To Get Dirty

 There are those who love to get dirty
 and fix things.
They drink coffee at dawn,
 beer after work,

And those who stay clean,
 just appreciate things,
At breakfast they have milk
 and juice at night.

There are those who do both,
 they drink tea.