Hay for Horses by Gary Snyder

Here is a well known Gary Snyder poem. A farmer poet, a western poet, an environmentalist, a California cool poet, our connection to the Beat poets, I think of him as a spiritual man, a Buddhist if anything. Matt gave me a book of Gary Snyder’s poems for Christmas.

This poem holds onto the irony within the course of an ordinary life. Work–physical labor–is devalued in our leisure society. We live to play. Snyder is acquainted with people who live to work as they work to live.

Hay for Horses by Gary Snyder 1930-

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
        behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the 
        sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
“I’m sixty-eight” he said,
“I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that’s just what
I’ve gone and done.”

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