Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Gary Snyder's Zen Confessions

In the fourth section of his “danger on peaks” Gary Snyder continues to speak in the eastern confessional manner that he embarked on in the preceding section. This time the poems are shorter, kind of tanka-like, and often ending with some terse but enlightening comparison. Lovers and friends for the most part are his subjects. The poems often seem slight, and the endings feel forced, as if Snyder is confessing to his inner zen monk. In his poem about his mother-in-law though, I think he’s more successful with the form, most likely because the subject matter is such a good fit with the style:
Coffee, Markets, Blossoms

My Japanese mother-in-law
born in America
tough with brokers
a smart trader
grew up working barefoot
in the Delta, on the farm.
Doesn’t like Japan.
Sits in the early morning
by the window, coffee in hand,

gazing at cherry blossoms.
Jean Koda
needing no poem.

Gary Snyder, danger on peaks: pg. 66

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