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.”