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Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  817 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Forty-five years ago, Gary Snyder’s first book of poems, Riprap, was published by Origin Press in a beautiful paperbound edition stitched Japanese-style. Around that time Snyder published his translations of Chinese poet Han-Shan’s Cold Mountain Poems in the sixth issue of the “Evergreen Review.” Thus was launched one of the most remarkable literary careers of the last cen ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published December 1st 2003 by Counterpoint (first published January 1st 1969)
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Dec 15, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Much less meaningful than Turtle Island. The "Riprap" half of the book, written when the young poet worked as a logger and did trail maintenance at Yosemite National Park, was good, as advertised.

The "Cold Mountain Poems" second half, consisting of translations of centuries-old Chinese Zen poems, left me unmoved.
Nancy Bevilaqua
Feb 17, 2015 Nancy Bevilaqua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a poet, I'm not very comfortable reviewing the work of other poets, let alone someone of Gary Snyder's stature. I can only say what appeals to me, what moves me, what inspires me to go off to write some more, and, sometimes, what doesn't work for me (which is very often the very thing that will make someone else fall in love with the poet).

I was so dumb and arrogant in college (Reed-which is something that Mr. Snyder and I do have in common). I read a little of Snyder's work and, in my great
Apr 06, 2011 Gordon rated it really liked it
I believe that within the true intentions of Gary Snyder, there exists an overall appreciation for the concrete as opposed to the abstract. In RipRap, the first portion of the book, Snyder relies heavily on descriptions and imagery that are very easy to imagine and interpret. For most of the poems in the first half of the book RipRap, the titles of the poems themselves adequately encompass the true meaning or vision that Snyder is trying to portray in each poem. Snyder brilliantly describes the ...more
Sep 15, 2013 A.M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this collection by Gary Snyder, likely because of its Zen Buddhist elements. The book is actually two separate collections, one entitled "RIPRAP" and the other entitled "COLD MOUNTAIN POEMS."

RIPRAP can almost be seen as a prelude to COLD MOUNTAIN, the poems expressing the poet's search for meaning as he goes about the act of survival -- working, looking for work, traveling, observing nature and humanity on a day-to-day, season-to-season basis and observing the underlying sense
Apr 02, 2016 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I have owned this book for awhile, and just picked it up again because I have been reading poems by Cold Mountain (Han-Shan) and wanted to see other translations. Gary Snyder has translated only 24 of them, but that was enough for Han-Shan to become popularized in the U.S.

Gary Snyder enrolled at U.C. Berkeley back in 1953, and one of his professors, Chen Shih-hsiang, encouraged them to translate them because he felt that Snyder may have an affinity with them. And that he did.

I read the Riprap
Doutor Branco
Quite good!
Robbie Bruens
It's been a while since I've read a book of poetry cover to cover and I'm glad I picked Gary Snyder to return to the form. The sense of story and clarity that runs through these works, while still exploring territory that is more mysterious and mystical and evocative is not only an absolute delight to read, but also a provocation and reminder of what I'm missing by reading mostly prose these days. Maybe more than anything else, Snyder surrounds you with the place he is describing. You are in Piu ...more
May 19, 2010 Leah rated it really liked it
I'm rounding up for promise - if I could I'd give this 3 1/2 stars, I think. It's his first book and you can definitely see potential, but it's a little uneven. Some of the poems are lovely, while others are just ok. However, it does make me want to read more of his work and that says something.
Mar 24, 2016 Jacob rated it really liked it
"Grope and stutter for the words, invent a tune,
In any tongue, this moment one time true
Be wine or blood or rhythm drives it through--
A leap of words to things and there it stops." (p. 24 from "A Stone Garden")

(I don't have much of a poetry background, so pardon me if this skews toward layman review.)
Some of these poems seem too bogged down in the sensory. Snyder sometimes strives for pieces that point vaguely toward things. "In some of the riprap poems, then, I did try for surface simplicity se
Nov 25, 2011 Blake rated it it was amazing
Read Dharma Bums a dozen times and finally FINALLY got around to this and it certainly exceeded all expectations which were quite high to begin with. So good.
Kelty Walker
Sep 17, 2012 Kelty Walker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, beatnik
And now I've lost the shortcut home,
Body asking shadow, how do you keep up?


I could read these two lines for an indefinite amount of time.
Jul 06, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
I especially enjoyed the Cold Mountain poem translations.
Dec 11, 2012 Mat rated it really liked it
truly amazing that this is only Snyder's first book of poetry. Riprap contains some breathtakingly beautiful poems and one or two average poems. 'Water' is probably my favorite.

Cold Mountain Poems are wonderful translations of the poetry of the ancient, eccentric, mad-laughing, mountain hermit Han Shan and this section is even better than Riprap.

what blows me away the most is how evocative these poems can be. Snyder's translations send you right there to the scenes of inspiration that Han Shan s
Mar 09, 2015 Kenya rated it liked it
Not saying that this book of poetry takes to long to finish but I think spreading the pow out give them more meaning in some way. I enjoyed this small collection, I actually read it for a class that was Beats and Buddhist centric. If one likes the somewhat airy atmospheric quality of poetry, this is totally your book to check out and read. I really ddi enjoy this book for my class though. It's not many peoples cup of tea though.
Jan 23, 2016 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is a short book of poems. As with all poetry, there are some winners and some not so much winners. The ones that I enjoyed:

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout p3
Hay for the Horses p15 (you probably have to have baled hay to enjoy this one)
Goofing Again p28 (Sadly, I've also dropped a full can of paint)
Cold Mountain Poem 2, 5, 16 - p40, 43, 54
Jul 21, 2015 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Snyder's first collection of poetry is beautiful and strangely irreverent, maybe the beginnings of environmental poetry. As obnoxious as this will sound, I expected a bit more from the Cold Mountain poems, but these were still gorgeous in there own way. The Zen Buddhism that is directly linked with these is very much in your face, but I like it that way. This is the kind of collection that should be kept out for occasional reading vs. filing away and forgotten about. Essential reading.
My favorite from this slim volume:

Men ask the way to Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain: there's no through trail.
In summer, ice doesn't melt
The rising sun blurs in swirling fog.
How did I make it?
My heart's not the same as yours.
If your heart was like mine
You'd get it and be right here.

Although the work here didn't touch me the way I expected it would, I enjoyed the clean spare nature of Snyder's words, & I think he achieved what he was striving for: a traditional modernism, rooted in both the rock
David Alexander
Aug 21, 2014 David Alexander rated it it was amazing
Gary Snyder's Cold Mountain poems, his translations of the T'ang era mountain Chan poet Han-shan's poems, has now entered my personal canon of classic works calling out to my depths for repeated readings.
Sabrina Gonzalez
Mar 04, 2015 Sabrina Gonzalez rated it liked it
Considering that I am not at all inclined to poetry. While i didn't find it beautiful or thought provoking, I did find it interesting the way he incorporated Buddhism with his way of thinking. It was pretty cool.
Mar 10, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is the first of Gary Snyder's work that I've read, and I'm hooked. His style of poetry appeals to me--his visuals and interjections, stop-and-start hyphenization, his philosophy. I think it makes for great free verse meaningful poetry ("poetry with a purpose"). I had many favorites here; I'll try to update later with quotes and particulars.

His relationship with Hanshan (Cold Mountain) is a valuable one. You can tell they are kindred in many ways, and Snyder's translations come off both mode
May 02, 2015 Stoic_quin rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Sparse poetry echoing the oriental poetry that inspired it. Majestic first work.
Christopher Barry
Apr 30, 2016 Christopher Barry rated it it was amazing
Re-read this quick collection because I am reading The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac and this was the collection (Cold Mountain Poems) in particular that the fictional Snyder was writing in the book.

Contains a few of my favorite poems, "Hay for the Horses" in particular. "Cold Mountain Poems" seem to have more resonance with me on this reading... I think it has something to do with getting older and wanting solitude.
Oct 05, 2012 Monet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Gary Snyder proves the adages "Less is more" & "Plain language is not simple language." I found myself feeling as isolated and also as empowered as the speaker of these poems. To Mr.Snyder, nature is where we lose ourselves and find ourselves. You can't miss this confident first book by the Pulitzer Prize winner. My favorites include "Reading Keats by the Fire" and "5am off the Coast of Sumatra"
Jul 13, 2015 Wlwarner rated it it was amazing
Still holds up.
Larry Smith
Dec 24, 2011 Larry Smith rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone alive to poetry or Nature
This book is available from Counterpoint in a 50 year anniversary edition...As good as Snyder gets, and that includes a Pulitzer and the lifelong work of Mountains and Rivers Without End, this first book of his is golden...and the best introduction to his fine body of work. May he write on...and on. Counterpoint publishes the kind of books you treasure.
Sean A.
Dec 30, 2012 Sean A. rated it really liked it
i liked cold mountain poems slightly better than snyder's 'riprap', but riprap was still good. poems like this can perhaps adjust one's viewpoint, if, unfortunately often only temporarily, towards achieving a shining diamond-like clarity.
Nov 14, 2007 Matt rated it liked it
the translations of Han Shan are the gem here. Perfect concise evocations of mountain aestheticism. Snyders own are contrived, hit or miss, youll like them only if you want to, you know you think hes sexy or like ed abbey alot or something.
Nov 09, 2007 Joe rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Snyder's first book. A few outstanding poems, some inconsequential. Poems written about work on an oil tanker in a looser line reveal a more Levine-ish direction he never took.
Eric Shaffer
Sep 01, 2008 Eric Shaffer rated it it was amazing
Still one of the best introductions to Snyder's poems, it remains fresh and impressive--as good poems always do over time.
Mar 24, 2007 Jason rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite poet authors. Part of the Beat generation, contemporary to Ginsberg et al.
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Gary Snyder is an American poet (originally, often associated with the Beat Generation), essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Since the 1970s, he has frequently been described as the 'laureate of Deep Ecology'. From the 1950s on, he has published travel-journals and essays from time to time. His work in his various roles reflects his im ...more
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“Clambering up the Cold Mountain path,
The Cold Mountain trail goes on and on:
The long gorge choked with scree and boulders,
The wide creek, the mist-blurred grass.
The moss is slippery, though there's been no rain
The pine sings, but there's no wind.
Who can leap the world's ties
And sit with me among the white clouds?”
“Clouds sink down the hills
Coffee is hot again. The dog
Turns and turns about, stops and sleeps.”
More quotes…