Aug 26 2011
How Poetry Comes to Me
by Gary Snyder
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light
— from No Nature: New and Selected Poems, by Gary Snyder
/ Photo by Thelonious Gonzo /
This isn’t one of those poems that makes you giddy with its language and vision. It’s simple, even plain. But something about the image it conjures up is both haunting and inspiring to me.
Gary Snyder describes poetic inspiration as a shamanic encounter. I imagine the poet crouched before his small campfire out in the desert somewhere, with the vast black night all around him. And poetry comes, a creature of the Otherworld, shy and dangerous and unknown, drawn to the light yet keeping to shadow. Only a poet thinks to stand and turn, to walk to the edge of the well-lit world and peer into the unknown. The most dangerous poets extend a hand and say, “Welcome.”
That’s when the world is replenished with mystery.
…Anyone going camping this weekend?