Getting in the Wood

By Gary Snyder b. 1930 Gary Snyder
The sour smell,
       blue stain,
               water squirts out round the wedge,

Lifting quarters of rounds
       covered with ants,
      "a living glove of ants upon my hand"
the poll of the sledge a bit peened over
so the wedge springs off and tumbles
        ringing like high-pitched bells
               into the complex duff of twigs
               poison oak, bark, sawdust,
               shards of logs,

And the sweat drips down.
        Smell of crushed ants.
The lean and heave on the peavey
that breaks free the last of a bucked
        three-foot round,
                it lies flat on smashed oaklings—

Wedge and sledge, peavey and maul,
       little axe, canteen, piggyback can
       of saw-mix gas and oil for the chain,
knapsack of files and goggles and rags,

All to gather the dead and the down.
       the young men throw splits on the piles
       bodies hardening, learning the pace
and the smell of tools from this delve
       in the winter
             death-topple of elderly oak.
Four cords.


Gary Snyder, "Getting in the Wood" from Axe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder.  Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press.

Source: Axe Handles (North Point Press, 1983)

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Poet Gary Snyder b. 1930

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Music

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, Landscapes & Pastorals, Arts & Sciences, Music

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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