TURTLE ISLAND by Gary Snyder
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Unfortunately, poets are not legislators -- unacknowledged or otherwise -- of the human race, or Gary Snyder, who calls the wilderness his ""constituency,"" would create ""a new definition of democracy that would include the nonhuman. . . . This is what I think we mean by an ecological conscience."" American Indian pantheism and the nonegoism of Buddhism underlie Snyder's poetry -- values he calls ""archaic,"" ""primitive,"" the ancient roots of human civilization, and redefines as the alternative to the bankruptcy of materialistic technological society. Snyder's lifestyle has been disparaged as Beatnik/hippie/dropout (do we still believe they don't wash?) and pseudo-mystic, but anyone who follows the middle-class drum beat needs only a glance at his food or fuel bill or a whiff of dirty urban air for a reminder that all's not well with the man-made world. Or for a remembrance of how nice it used to be, read Gary Snyder's keenly observant poems about logging, hunting, ""burning,"" camping, and the call of the wild; ridges, valleys, creeks and falls; manzanita boughs, red-tailed hawks, curlews, whales, pine needles, Boletus mushrooms, night herons who ""nest in the cypress/ by the San Francisco/stationary boilers/ with the high smoke stack,"" and ""the Delight/ at the heart of creation."" They're like the water colors hanging on the walls of your country home, little rough-hewn visions of the living things with whom we share our planet (the ""Turtle Island"" of the title). No cosmic verities or trendy folderol here -- just pretty poems shining in their own light.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1974
ISBN: 0811205452
Publisher: New Directions