On His 83rd Birthday, Gary Snyder’s Poem “Old Bones”

May 8, 2013

snyderToday is poet Gary Snyder’s birthday. He is 83 years old.

I studied with Gary and he had a big impact on my poetry, which I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog.

You won’t find traces of his influence in my work, stylistically at any rate; rather you’ll find it in my deep engagement of nature, in how I pay attention, and “be crafty and get the work done.”

Happy birthday Gary!

Here is Gary Snyder’s poem, “Old Bones”:

Old Bones

 

Out there walking round, looking out for food,

a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack

plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,

barely getting by,

 

no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—

carry some—look for some,

go for a hungry dream.

Deer bone, Dall sheep,

bones hunger home.

 

Out there somewhere

a shrine for the old ones,

the dust of the old bones,

old songs and tales.

 

What we ate—who ate what—

how we all prevailed.

–Gary Snyder

 

And here is a recording of Gary reading “Old Bones”:

 

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3 Responses to “On His 83rd Birthday, Gary Snyder’s Poem “Old Bones””

  1. kalabalu Says:

    some where out there in the wilderness, I have lost my dream, my tales and my poetry..those were my food for thought, can now be your’s too..if you can find

  2. Lee Langbaum Says:

    Understand ‘old bones’… Got them myself! You captured Sammi… Think of her in technicolor tho. Xoxo

    Sent from my iPhone


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