In Axe Handles Mr. Snyder reveals the roots of community in the family and explores the transmission of cultural values and knowledge.
“In making the handle of an axe by cutting wood with an axe the model is indeed near at hand.” In exploring this axiom of Lu Ji’s, Gary Snyder continues:
I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.
This is a collection of discovery, of insight, and of vision. These poems see the roots of community in the family, and the roots of culture and government in the community.
Formally, the 71 poems in Axe Handles range from lyrics to riddles to narratives. The collection is divided into three parts, called “Loops,” “Little Songs for Gaia,” and “Nets,” each containing poems of disciplined clarity. Gary Snyder knows well the great power of silence in a poem, silence that allows the mind space enough to discover the magic of song.