Gary Snyder on the Surprise of a Poem

“I finished off the trail crew season and went on a long mountain meditation walk for ten days across some wilderness. During that process—thinking about things and my life—I just dropped poetry. I don’t want to sound precious, but in some sense I did drop it. Then I started writing poems that were better. From that time forward I always looked on the poems I wrote as gifts that were not essential to my life; if I never wrote another one, it wouldn’t be a great tragedy. Ever since, every poem I’ve written has been like a surprise… You get a good poem and you don’t know where it came from. ‘Did I say that?’ And so all you feel is: you feel humility and you feel gratitude. And you’d feel a little uncomfortable, I think, if you capitalized too much on that without admitting at some point that you got it from the Muse, or whoever, wherever, or however.”

Gary Snyder

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