By Jim Miller
Gary Snyder is a courage teacher. His fine new book of poems, This Present Moment, is a meditation on wonder and impermanence. In it, for instance, we learn to value our laptops –
“Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted/and vanish in the flash at ‘delete,’/so it teaches of impermanence and pain.”
And it’s true, the miracle of creation that comes out of “a formless face/which is our Original Face,” but as soon as the words are formed the self who made them is no longer there.
Still there is beauty, and moments of grace are there to be found and cherished in “the morning and night coming together,” the “glacier scrapes across the bedrock,” and “the deep dense woods.” You just need to follow “the shining way of the wild” and “hang in, work it out, watch for the moment.”
Snyder takes us on a world tour in this collection from the glories of the High Sierras to the gorgeous landscapes of the Italian countryside, from the Eiffel Tower to his wife’s cremation.
A Buddhist, Snyder knows that to love anything–from a gorgeous sunset to a lifelong partner–is to invite loss and intense suffering: “This is the price of attachment,” he tells us, but it is still “Worth it. Easily worth it.”