I just finished my last research paper for my last summer grad class. I don't have much breathing room here. As soon as this class ends, I start another 8-week accelerated class through Regis University. And I really am enjoying it. My paper was about the similarities between Ezra Pound and Gary Snyder in terms of their writing styles. I had of course read Pound before I read Snyder. So, years ago, when I finally got around to reading Snyder and saw him read at Naropa, I was pleasantly surprised that another poet had seen the beauty of Pound's writing—especially his Cantos CX-CXVII. Some of these fragments got Pound into trouble. He was a crazy anti-Semite. But apparently, he was also somewhat of a Zen Buddhist scholar. Gary Snyder was too. And he was greatly influenced by Pound. If you look at his poem "Burning Island," and then compare it visually, side-by-side with Canto CX, it almost takes your breath away. The dashes, the hyphenated modifiers, the nods to imagism, the mentioning of celestial bodies, the use of the vocative "O," etc. These are all the technicalities of the writing. More interesting is the serenity that each of the poems bring.
Not content to just be labelled as "nature poets," Pound and Snyder both dig deep and explore every possible image, every possible emotion, every possible language, every possible religion, or belief system to pull the reader into this space of serenity that only the natural world can yield, and that can really, truly be expressed through good poetry. Pound's writing is more intellectual, less colloquial than Snyder's, but a reader can't dismiss his riveting command of language:
"When the stag drinks at the salt spring/and sheep come down with the gentian sprout,/can you see with the eyes of coral or turquoise/or walk with the oak's root?"
And then the loveliness of his weaving in Asian language:
"Yellow iris in that river bed
Quercus on Mt Sumeru
can'st 'ou see with the eyes of turquoise?
in the center/is juniper/The purifications are snow, rain, artemisia, also dew, oak and the juniper....
Ah, the "purifications." This, to me, speaks of healing and love. So the ending of Snyder's "Burning Island" is not surprising given Pound's influence: