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The Monday Poem > "It Pleases" by Gary Snyder (Oct. 2, '17)

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message 1: by Greg (last edited Oct 02, 2017 01:17AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Two poems by Zen poet Gary Snyder from his Pulitzer Prize winning Turtle Island. I don't enthusiastically recommend the book as a whole, but these two poems definitely speak to me.

It Pleases

Far above the dome
Of the capitol--
               It's true!
A large bird soars
Against white cloud,
Wings arced,
Sailing easy in this
humid Southern sun-blurred
               breeze--
             the dark-suited policeman
             watches tourist cars--
And the center,
The center of power is nothing!
Nothing here.
Old white stone domes,
Strangely quiet people,

Earth-sky-bird patterns
               idly interlacing

The world does what it pleases.
                            (Washington D.C. X1:73)


The Dazzle

   the dazzle, the seduction the
                    design
     intoxicated and quivering,
bees? is it flowers? why does this
          seed move around,
                    the one
divides itself, divides, and divides again.
     "we all know where that leads"
     blinding storms of gold pollen.
            --grope through that?
                  the dazzle
             and the blue clay.
"all that moves, loves to sing"
        the roots are at work.
                    unseen.


message 2: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments A new poet to me; thanks for the introduction Greg! I find the 2nd one harder to fathom but I like the sound of it.


B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments I liked them, Greg, Thanks.


Greg | 7478 comments Mod
My pleasure, Bette and Leslie! :)


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Greg. Both interesting poems. I find them quite challenging to interpret. Any help would be appreciated!!


message 6: by Greg (last edited Oct 03, 2017 02:35AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "Thanks Greg. Both interesting poems. I find them quite challenging to interpret. Any help would be appreciated!!"

Sure Heather! The poems are a bit Zen ... simple in terms of the individual words but profound and not simple at all as a whole.

For me, the first one is philosophical. The poet is standing in the capitol in Washington D.C. and realizing the limits of human power. The bird overhead, the world goes on, oblivious to us self-important humans. :) For me, this is comforting in a time of human (and to some of us, a time of political) madness. It's easy to think that petty human stuff is the most important thing, but it isn't really. So much is completely outside the sphere of political and even human influence.

It reminds me of a much happier "Ozymandius" .. but almost the same point. That's how I see it anyway.

The second one for me is just about the drive and passion of life, the constant division of cells, the profusion of pollen, the growth and the bursting forth!! ... and so much of that is invisible to the eye, the growth of roots underground, the action of cells. It's all dazzling and a bit mysterious too .. a vast intoxicating "design."

I've never studied the poems though - this is just what I personally feel in them when I read them. What does everyone think?


message 7: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments The second poem makes me think about reproduction: the dividing (cells?), the pollen, "the seduction". And sex is what the line

" "we all know where that leads" "

makes me think of :)

For the first poem, my take was pretty much what Greg said. The line:

"The center of power is nothing!" and then at the end

"The world does what it pleases."

affirming that human concerns & conceits are just that - human - & the earth goes on regardless.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you guys!

I am now completely in love with the second poem. The way it moves quickly reminded me of the videos you can see of cell division (this might be a very weird association)

I agree with the interpretation of the first poem


Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "The second poem makes me think about reproduction: the dividing (cells?), the pollen, "the seduction". And sex is what the line

" "we all know where that leads" "

makes me think of :)


I like that Leslie! :)


message 10: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "Thank you guys!

I am now completely in love with the second poem. The way it moves quickly reminded me of the videos you can see of cell division (this might be a very weird association)..."


So glad Heather, and I don't think that's weird at all. I can definitely see that!


message 11: by Joan (new)

Joan When I was 13 yrs old, we had a class trip to Washington D.C. The poet seems to sum up the reaction of my classmates and me, as I remember. Whichever chamber we watched was disappointingly dull, full of old men, and seemed so irrelevant to our lives.
Not that I remember what was so important to me 47 years ago :-)

I’ll have to ponder the second poem. I love the opening which captures the buzzing frenzy of a bee.
It seems to contrast the buzzing, moving, sexy mating dance with the silent, unseen, but essential work of the roots.

I don’t know what to make of blue clay
or the central core.
Is it contrasting the male gametes which spread far and wide to the female which stays and after fertilization divides and divides, leading to a new generation?


message 12: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "It seems to contrast the buzzing, moving, sexy mating dance with the silent, unseen, but essential work of the roots...."

I hadn't thought of it this way Joan, but I love this. There definitely are the seen things like the pollen and the unseen, silent things that make them possible.

I really enjoy reading everyone's comments! Even with poems I've spent a lot of time with, I always learn something new!


message 13: by Joan (new)

Joan Greg, I agree. I find the comments slow me down and get me to reread with new eyes. The opening lines of the first poem really do have a Zen-like sound/feel.

@Heather - I thought of the same thing - especially the videos of embryos just starting to develop https://youtu.be/O52oMM5YrpI


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow, Greg, I love these poems, and your analysis gets to the meat of them. Great selections!


message 15: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Terri wrote: "Wow, Greg, I love these poems, and your analysis gets to the meat of them. Great selections!"

Thanks Terri! :)


message 16: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
A bit out of left field, but just yesterday I ran across an article saying that Kerouac's The Dharma Bums was about Kerouac's real-life experiences with Gary Snyder. I wonder if it's true?


message 17: by Joan (new)

Joan I’ve not enjoyed reading beat poetry - maybe we need a Kerouac challenge so we can help each other through.


message 18: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "I’ve not enjoyed reading beat poetry - maybe we need a Kerouac challenge so we can help each other through."

Not a bad idea Joan! :)

For me beat poetry is hit or miss. There is some I can connect with instantly like Ginsburg's "Howl," but a lot of other beat poems I don't really get.


message 19: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Yes, correct re The Dharma Bums. I'm of an age where at one stage I thought they were wonderful. Later I found them self indulgent. Now
Well maybe it's time to re re-evaluate.


message 20: by Greg (new) - rated it 2 stars

Greg | 7478 comments Mod
Gill wrote: "Yes, correct re The Dharma Bums. I'm of an age where at one stage I thought they were wonderful. Later I found them self indulgent. Now
Well maybe it's time to re re-evaluate."


I think some of the poems in Turtle Island were a little self indulgent, but I liked these two :)


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