“The reading is something like archeology, sifting the layers that have built up over the years to find the source of a familiar voice . . . Left Out in the Rain shows us the footsteps in the wet meadow grass.” —Los Angeles Times
“A fascinating case study and verse autobiography of a man who long ago staked his claim as one of America’s finest poets.” —Boston Herald
When Gary Snyder was in his twenties working as a forester and logger, one of the old loggers told him, “If you’re gonna work these woods, don’t want nothing that can’t be left out in the rain.”
Borrowing the phrase, Left Out in the Rain charts the journeys of the poet from 1947 to 1985. From the mountains and shores of the Pacific Northwest to the city streets of San Francisco, New York, and Kyoto, Snyder’s reflections are as much about the human experience as they are about the environment that encompasses it.
Sensual, sardonic, meditative, epigrammatic, formalist—whatever the subject, tone, or structure, these poems all bear the indelible stamp of a master. A villanelle for Finnish folklore, riffs on the neo–formalist poems trendy in the 1950s, a sestina on the philosophical dilemmas of anthropology and linguistics, a transformation of the third century BC Daoist essay “Discourse on Swords” into a satire on contemporary warlike administrations and governments—the experiments in this collection place Snyder among the most diverse of contemporary poets.
Left Out in the Rain means to include items carefully chosen to outlast the elements and remain useful for years. In his new preface to this edition, Snyder notes, “This complicated gathering of many poems, tight and loose together is like an understory ecosystem of the Old Growth. It needs rain.”
On the wooded coast,
Looking off toward
China and Japan
“If you’re gonna
work these woods
Don’t want nothing
That can’t be
left out in the rain—”