Burning Island

By Gary Snyder b. 1930 Gary Snyder
O Wave God      who broke through me today   
    Sea Bream
    massive pink and silver
    cool swimming down with me watching   
                      staying away from the spear

Volcano belly Keeper who lifted this island
    for our own beaded bodies adornment
    and sprinkles us all with his laugh—
                      ash in the eve
    mist, or smoke,
    on the bare high limits—
               underwater lava flows easing to coral
                      holes filled with striped feeding swimmers

O Sky Gods      cartwheeling
    out of   Pacific
    turning rainsqualls over like lids on us   
    then shine on our sodden—
               (scanned out a rainbow today at the   
                      cow drinking trough   
                            sluicing off
            LAKHS of crystal Buddha Fields   
            right on the hair of the arm!)

Who wavers right now in the bamboo:   
   a half-gone waning moon.
                  drank down a bowlful of shochu   
                           in praise of Antares
                  gazing far up the lanes of Sagittarius
                           richest stream of our sky—
   a cup to the center of the galaxy!   
                  and let the eyes stray
   right-angling the pitch of the Milky Way:   
                  horse-heads   rings
                  clouds      too distant to be
                  slide free.
                              on the crest of the wave.

Each night
O Earth Mother
   I have wrappt my hand
   over the jut of your cobra-hood
                               sleeping;   
   left my ear
All night long by your mouth.

O   All
Gods   tides   capes   currents   
Flows and spirals of
      pool and powers—

As we hoe the field
   let sweet potato grow.
And as sit us all down when we may   
To consider the Dharma
   bring with a flower and a glimmer.   
Let us all sleep in peace    together.

Bless Masa and me as we marry   
   at new moon         on the crater   
This summer.

VIII 40067

Gary Snyder, “Burning Island” from Regarding Wave. Copyright © 1970 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

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

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Poet Gary Snyder b. 1930

Subjects Nature, Buddhism, Religion, Other Religions, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Gary  Snyder

Biography

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, Buddhism, Religion, Other Religions, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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