On His 83rd Birthday, Gary Snyder’s Poem “Old Bones”
May 8, 2013
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”:
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.
And here is a recording of Gary reading “Old Bones”: