The poet Gary Snyder was born on this day in 1930. In his writing and his life, he explores what he describes as "the mytho-poetic interface of society, ecology, and language." He has been called the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology."

He started writing poems as a Beatnik and over the years has refined his style to fit his Buddhist perspective. His poetry has garnered a Pulitzer Price (Turtle Island), an American Book Award (Axe Handles: Poems), and the Bollingen Prize (Mountains and Rivers Without End, This Present Moment). Snyder has also translated many elegant Japanese and Chinese poems.

His essays on culture, the environment, and the wild convey his sturdy reverence for the natural world and the spirituality of living close to the earth. He models for us what it means to truly love and protect the planet.

To Name This Day:


Reading Snyder, we are always surprised by how he catalyzes our thinking about our relationship to the Earth. For example in The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations, Snyder offers this description of the Earth.

"Wide enough to keep you looking
Open enough to keep you moving
Dry enough to keep you honest
Prickly enough to make you tough
Green enough to go on living
Old enough to give you dreams"

What phrases would you use to describe the Earth and its gifts to you?

Also in The Gary Snyder Reader is this reflection on the Muse:

"The voice of inspiration as an 'other' has long been known in the West as the Muse. Widely speaking, the muse is anything other that touches you and moves you. Be it a mountain ramge, a band of people, the morning star, or a diesel generator. Breaks through the ego-barrier."

What revelations or insights have been showered upon you by your Muse today?

Spiritual Practice

In Hunting for Hope, Scott Russell Sanders recalls the words of Gary Snyder in A Place in Space. He calls it a secular version of the monastic insight that those who are loyal to the home ground, those who stay put instead of rushing about, are likelier to face the hard questions, to focus their energy on the real work of democracy and planet-saving. He quotes Snyder:

"Stewardship means, for most of us, find your place on the planet, dig in, and take responsibility from there -- the tiresome but tangible work of school boards, county supervisors, local foresters. local politics, even while holding in mind the largest scale of potential change. Get a sense of workable territory, learn about it, and start acting point by point."

Today, on Gary Snyder's birthday, make a specific commitment to your little place on the planet.