Today is International Migratory Bird Day. It is also the 80th birthday of the poet Gary Snyder. It is also one of the many days that wildlife volunteers along the Gulf Coast will be rescuing animals from the oil spill, cleaning them, hoping for their survival. I find this an ironic conjunction of events on one day. I hope for Snyder some good years yet to come. As of 2007, he was still writing. This event in the Gulf must be a huge heartache for him, lover of the wild that he is. He was an early influence on my own writing, I found in him a very kindred spirit. To honor his birthday I took my ancient copy of Riprap, & Cold Mountain Poems off the shelf and read through it. This 1956 poem from Riprap is another bit of conjunction to the day. I hope you are well, Gary Snyder.
Migration of Birds
It started just now with a hummingbird
Hovering over the porch two yards away
It stopped me studying.
I saw the redwood post
Leaning in clod ground
Tangled in a bush of yellow flowers
Higher than my head, through which we push
Every time we come inside -
The shadow network of the sunshine
Through its vines. White crowned sparrows
Make tremendous singings in the trees
The rooster down the valley crows and crows.
Jack Kerouac outside, behind my back
Reads the Diamond Sutra in the sun.
Yesterday I read Migration of Birds;
The Golden Plover and the Arctic Tern.
Today that big abstraction's at our door
For juncoes and the robins all have left,
Broody scrabblers pick up bits of string
And in this hazy day
Of April summer heat
Across the hill the seabirds
Chase Spring north along the coast:
Nesting in Alaska
In six weeks.