Above Pate Valley

By Gary Snyder b. 1930 Gary Snyder
We finished clearing the last   
Section of trail by noon,
High on the ridge-side
Two thousand feet above the creek   
Reached the pass, went on
Beyond the white pine groves,   
Granite shoulders, to a small
Green meadow watered by the snow,   
Edged with Aspen—sun
Straight high and blazing
But the air was cool.
Ate a cold fried trout in the   
Trembling shadows. I spied
A glitter, and found a flake
Black volcanic glass—obsidian—
By a flower. Hands and knees   
Pushing the Bear grass, thousands   
Of arrowhead leavings over a   
Hundred yards. Not one good   
Head, just razor flakes
On a hill snowed all but summer,   
A land of fat summer deer,
They came to camp. On their   
Own trails. I followed my own   
Trail here. Picked up the cold-drill,   
Pick, singlejack, and sack
Of dynamite.
Ten thousand years.

Gary Snyder, “Above Pate Valley” from Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted by permission of Shoemaker & Hoard Publishers.

Source: No Nature: New and Selected Poems (1992)

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Poet Gary Snyder b. 1930

Subjects Nature, Jobs & Working, Landscapes & Pastorals, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Gary  Snyder


Gary Snyder began his career in the 1950s as a noted member of the “Beat Generation,” though he has since explored a wide range of social and spiritual matters in both poetry and prose. Snyder’s work blends physical reality and precise observations of nature with inner insight received primarily through the practice of Zen Buddhism. While Snyder has gained attention as a spokesman for the preservation of the natural world and . . .

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SUBJECT Nature, Jobs & Working, Landscapes & Pastorals, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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