Wednesday, April 02, 2008

BillyBlog's Favorite Poems, #29 ("Magpie's Song" by Gary Snyder)

Gary Snyder is a marvelous poet. He writes about nature and a simple way of life that seems isolated and romantic. I could go on for hours about him, but best you get more biographical information by clicking his name and reading elsewhere.


I had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him read on March 14, 2005 (read my recap here).


The one moment that comes to me, the one poem that resonates, again, is best heard, rather than read. Snyder is a wonderful performer of his poems. He reads some, sings some, chants some (he has studied Zen Buddhism extensively). The following poem I first heard in the Bill Moyers special The Language of Life on PBS. Snyder's performance of this still gives me chills.



"Magpie's Song"

Six A.M.,
Sat down on excavation gravel
by juniper and desert S.P. tracks
interstate 80 not far off
between trucks
Coyotes--maybe three
howling and yapping from a rise.

Magpie on a bough
Tipped his head and said,

"Here in the mind, brother
Turquoise blue.
I wouldn't fool you.
Smell the breeze
It came through all the trees
No need to fear
What's ahead
Snow up on the hills west
Will be there every year
be at rest.
A feather on the ground--
The wind sound--

Here in the Mind, Brother,
Turquoise Blue"




Listen: "Magpie's Song" by Gary Snyder (m4a)

NOTE: This is an excerpt from The Language of Life series. The 7 minute, 37 second clip begins with "Magpie's Song" in progress. It begins with the third stanza. But it's an amazing 14 lines performed at the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival in 1994. The rest of the clip is fascinating as well, and includes some audio with the poet Daisy Zamora.

2 comments:

Larry Smith/ Bottom Dog Press said...

So, if you love a poem, you should reproduce it as the poet did...with the correct spacing...it's about the breath and space and timing.
thanks

Charles said...

Easier said than done with the auto-formatting defaults on these blogging templates...frustrating, but not the blogger's fault, alas.