What I Like About Poetry & Gary Snyder

I have always liked words.

I used to use them to impress people. I am relatively sure that most of those people were more annoyed than impressed with my big words and obscure phrases.

The correct use of words can take our minds into places of understanding and open up vistas of meaning and sense that verge on the sublime.

It’s like the King James version of the Bible. It was translated during a time when words had more depth and complexity. A time when words had subtle inflections. Am I making sense.

Sort of like the Eskimo. Since their lives were lived around a lot of snow, I have heard they had 10 or 12 different words for it. Wet snow, dry snow, snow that was hard-packed or snow that would give way when walking, etc.

In the Hebrew and Greek (also Aramaic) languages that the Bible was written in, most words have many different inflections depending on the context within which they were used. When reading the Bible I like to look up the highlighted words in the Strongs Concordance and really get a feeling for the concepts being expressed.

Back to poetry and Gary Snyder. Snyder is considered to have been a part of the “beat” poetry movement which included Allen Ginsburg and the like. This poetry, at its’ core, was autobiographical. They took what was happening to them and around them and turned their experiences into poetry or prosody. They would break thoughts and sentences into lines and make it look like sonnet type stuff that historically had been viewed as poetry.

This would be like e. e. cummings, Lawrence Ferlingetti, and Jack Kerouac.

Anyway, Snyder’s peotry is about his life and his travels….his ride if you will. He was and is an enviromentalist and his poetry is filled with images of nature and so forth. In reading him, I am opened to the fact that a lot of stuff is happening around us all the time, which can, in and of itself, be quite overwhemling and sometimes frustrating.

That we often just bounce over the top of what is going on and never take the time to examine it…our lives in the context of prose or poetry.

So…here’s my poem to all of that.

Do our days mean “more”
when we can turn them into poetry
or a reality show
that everybody can tune into on national TV.

Reading a Sci-Fi novel by Robert Heinlein
can almost, for me
be more real than what I live everyday.

Or watching a movie,
Elizabethtown for example
can awaken parts of us
that we thought the ice age
had grabbed ahold of long ago.

To really be awake
To Live a life full of hope and even wonder.
What will it take?
What paradigm do we have to crack open
to get there?

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