Gary Snyder’s Instant Perspective Expander

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Every morning before firing up any technology, we read something that’ll set the tone for the day. This instant perspective-expander is from The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations one of our favorite books, where we ALWAYS find something illuminating. (Opening it randomly is our preferred method.):

…From the air, the works of humanity are scratches and grids and ponds, and in fact most of the earth seems, from afar, to be open land. (We know now that our impact is far greater than it appears.)

As for towns and cities— they are (to those who can see) old tree trunks, riverbed gravels, oil steps, landslide scrapes, blowdowns and burns, the leavings after floods, coral colonies, paper-wasp nests, beehives, rotting logs, watercourses, rock-cleavage lines, ledge strata layers, guano heaps, feeding frenzies, courting and struttung bowers, lookout rocks, and ground-squirrel apartments. And for a few people they are also palaces.

As we walk around the city, or visit friends in a smaller town, we love Snyder’s view: one of the natural world ever-present, with a simultaneous sense of the past that we are tromping over. It reminds us to practice “seeing”.

Almost a year ago, we came upon this natural kinetic sculpture made by water slipping under a the ice covering a huge boulder in the park nearby. That boulder is part of what was once a lookout point for local Indians…(Video link HERE.)

It occurs to us that were we to take Snyder’s great little hunk of prose and make each comma-separated phrase a line, we’d turn it into a poem:

…From the air,

the works of humanity are scratches and grids and ponds,

and in fact most of the earth seems,

from afar,

to be open land.

As for towns and cities—

they are (to those who can see)

old tree trunks,

riverbed gravels,

oil steps, landslide

scrapes,

blowdowns and burns,

the leavings after floods,

coral colonies,

paper-wasp nests,

beehives,

rotting logs,

watercourses,

rock-cleavage lines,

ledge strata layers,

guano heaps,

feeding frenzies,

courting and struttung bowers,

lookout rocks,

and ground-squirrel apartments.

And for a few people they are also palaces.

 

City —> Nature

Prose —>Poetry

_______     —>   _________ (fill in the blanks)

 

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