Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Hay for the Horses" by Gary Snyder

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 alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the 
               sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
--The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds--
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

From Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder, published by North Point Press.
Copyright © 1958, 1959, 1965 Gary Snyder.


From The Writer's Almanac:

An Interview with Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder was born in San Francisco. As a teenager, he wrote articles for the mountain-climbing club’s magazine and his high school newspaper, and then he went to Reed College, where he started reading Asian poetry. In the summers, he worked in logging camps, on trail crews, and as a fire lookout in the mountains. In 1955, he worked at Yosemite National Park on the trail crew. He said: “I had given up on poetry. … Then I got out there and started writing these poems about the rocks and blue jays. I looked at them. They didn’t look like any poems that I had ever written before. So I said, these must be my own poems.” They became his first book, Riprap (1959). That same year, he read with Allen Ginsberg at the famous October Sixth Gallery Reading where Ginsberg read “Howl” for the first time, and the two poets became lifelong friends. Snyder became a hero of the counterculture when Jack Kerouac published the book The Dharma Bums (1958), whose hero, Japhy Ryder, is based on Snyder.
For over a decade, Snyder spent most of his time studying Zen Buddhism in Japan. He has published more than 20 books of poetry and prose, includingAxe Handles (1983), Mountains and Rivers Without End (1997), and Turtle Island (1974), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975. He has also translated poetry, taught English at the University of California, Davis, and is respected environmental activist and thinker. Snyder has lived in the same house since 1970. The house was built by hand on a 100-acre plot of land in California’s Sierra Nevada. His most recent books include Nobody Home: Writing, Buddhism, and Living in Places (2014) and This Present Moment: New Poems(2015).

Read the interview →

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