Today is also the birthday of one of my favorite American poets, Gary Snyder, Beat/S.F. Renaissance/Eco-shaman - 82 today!
Gary Snyder: A spring night in Shokoku-ji
Eight years ago this May We walked under cherry blossoms At night in an orchard in Oregon. All that I wanted then Is forgotten now, but you. Here in the night In a garden of the old capital I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao I remember your cool body Naked under a summer cotton dress.
“A writer should never install himself before a panorama, however grandiose it may be. Like Saint Jerome, a writer should work in his cell. Turn the back. Writing is a view of the spirit. “The world is my representation.” Humanity lives in its fiction. This is why a conqueror always wants to transform the face of the world into his image. Today, I even veil the mirrors.” — Blaise Cendrars (Paris Review, The Art of Fiction No. 38)
Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm; Time and fevers burn away Individual beauty from Thoughtful children, and the grave Proves the child ephemeral: But in my arms till break of day Let the living creature lie, Mortal, guilty, but to me The entirely beautiful.
Soul and body have no bounds: To lovers as they lie upon Her tolerant enchanted slope In their ordinary swoon, Grave the vision Venus sends Of supernatural sympathy, Universal love and hope; While an abstract insight wakes Among the glaciers and the rocks The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.
Certainty, fidelity On the stroke of midnight pass Like vibrations of a bell, And fashionable madmen raise Their pedantic boring cry: Every farthing of the cost, All the dreaded cards foretell, Shall be paid, but from this night Not a whisper, not a thought, Not a kiss nor look be lost.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies: Let the winds of dawn that blow Softly round your dreaming head Such a day of welcome show Eye and knocking heart may bless, Find the mortal world enough; Noons of dryness find you fed By the involuntary powers, Nights of insult let you pass Watched by every human love.
Above: Photograph of Auden in profile, with inscription “Utopian youth grown old Italian. With love from Wystan” (The Beinecke)