Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

by Gary Snyder


Original Language English

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

-- from Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, by Gary Snyder

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/ Photo by USFS Region 5 /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.

That wonderful sense of the world focusing itself to the undeniable present. So much of what we think about is really the busyness of the world around us -- people, books, the rush of cities -- endlessly hooking the attention and tugging it in every direction. Through simplicity and isolation in nature, Snyder discovers a fundamental truth. The mind first grows bored, then frantic... and then it rests. It begins to truly see. The mind begins to perceive naturally, without effort, without inserting itself into the picture. It witnesses. And something both quiet and amazing happens: this moment, this very moment, unfolds endlessly...

Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.



Recommended Books: Gary Snyder

Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems No Nature: New and Selected Poems Turtle Island The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry and Translations Mountains and Rivers Without End
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Mid-August at