Aug 26 2011

Gary Snyder – How Poetry Comes to Me

Published by at 10:26 am under Poetry

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?

Gary Snyder, Gary Snyder poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Gary Snyder

US (1930 – )
Secular or Eclectic : Beat
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

More poetry by Gary Snyder

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Gary Snyder – How Poetry Comes to Me”

  1. Patriciaon 26 Aug 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Ivan, love Gary Snyder, you have been sending me two (2) copies of the same poem.
    Just remember to send me only one (1) e-mail.
    Thank you so much. Love, Patricia

  2. Joey Connollyon 26 Aug 2011 at 8:03 pm

    thank you Ivan…
    haiku for Gabriel Rosenstock and Gary Snyder:

    satori … rejoice
    off course by choice
    far from any bourse

    Gary Syder’s poetry inspired me in two immediate ways on reading it when in my early college days growing up in northern Appalachian hills.
    Encountering him in Kerouac’s Desolation Angels and subsequently finding his poetry in book stores ( it got easier back in the late 60’s) made me want to get right out to the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevadas , or any Western mountain range for that matter.
    It also made me search out work by both Japanese and Chinese hermit/ mountain/wandering bhikku poets. Basically have been following that trail/road/path (you-wei) ever since. … lost in the Dakota badlands, trains through the Gobi, Sahara, Nullarbor Plain, Indonesia, Canada, north of Arctic Circle, small island S.E. Alaska, freights on the East coast U.S.,wife from northern Manchuria, 20 + years on Micronesian islands, now on gravel roads through Nevada Basin & Range country….
    In my own unscholastic way off course; some more Japhy Ryder porridge please!

    good night! Irene
    East coast rain dancing
    flight in sight

  3. Joanon 26 Aug 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Ivan,
    Ah.. without any disrespect to Gary Snyder, your prose inspired me as much, if not more. You words created spirals of light in the ether around me.
    Thank you

  4. nasihaon 27 Aug 2011 at 2:34 am

    vivid and utterly from the depths of the heart of a poet!
    thank you Ivan! Thank you Snyder!
    My blessings!

  5. Lydiaon 29 Aug 2011 at 9:49 am

    went out for 4 days into the high Cascades. it was awesome, muscle tired and deeply inspiring, as are these words. Take care of yourself, Ivan and I look forward to more….


  6. This Word Is Play | Paper Tapeon 28 Apr 2015 at 6:01 am

    […] the pressure of purpose and re-prioritize your sense of process.  To read a poem is to accept an invitation.  And so, before we can understand what a poem is, we need to be able to recognize what a poem […]

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