Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Poetry saving America #NationalPoetryMonth

We are, and have been for some time, dedicated fans of Ed Abbey's writing. From what we've read of the man, we're not sure if we'd want to live next to him, but then his misanthropic attitude seems to closely approximate our own, so maybe we'd do fine as neighbors if we each kept what seemed like a reasonable (long) distance between us. You know, like Robert Frost's "Mending Walls" lines about 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

One aspect about Abbey that we most like is his intense love of unspoiled country coupled with an equally intense, perhaps even greater, dislike of those who would despoil it. Earlier today we picked up, once again, a new to us volume of Abbey's essays, "One Life at a Time." As we paged through it, we found ourselves wondering, this being National Poetry Month, why Abbey hadn't written any poetry. Turning to an internet browser and search engine, we typed in "Edward Abbey poetry." Damned if this didn't show up: Earth Apples: The Poetry of Edward Abbey (1994).

an Ed Abbey special? probably not
an Ed Abbey special? probably not
Photo by J. Harrington

We're sure we've been to the Abbey web site before, so we must be suffering the consequences of a faulty memory. Having rediscovered Abbey's poems, yet another volume that must be added to our "need to have" list of books. Come to think of it, unless our memory faults are continuing, we believe we've somehow missed reading Abbey's classic, Desert Solitaire, although these days we wish more people were familiar with The Monkey Wrench Gang. Anyhow, the one review of Abbey's poetry (from Outside magazine), makes us suspect that none of Abbey's poems/verse would have made it into Tony Hoagland's list of Twenty Poems That Could Save America. Until we've read each of Abbey's poems, we'll withhold judgement on whether any warrant being added to an extended version of that list. However, we have no such qualms about several of Gary Snyder's poems. Snyder is clearly a kindred spirit to Abbey. we have thus arrived at our proposal for one of Snyder's poems that could help save America.

For the Children

By Gary Snyder

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

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