For All, by Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder

Fascinating as it can be, focusing on politics, as I have been doing lately, can overwhelm the thoughts with all that is wrong.  Take a step back, and the question becomes what is right?  And also, what isn’t touched by any of that?

Watching something that’s always right – the dogs running around the yard – I thought of this poem by Gary Snyder.  For All has long been one of my favorites, and it seems especially important now:  “I pledge allegiance to the soil of Turtle Island…”

For All

Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
one ecosystem
in diversity
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.

(from Axe Handles, 1983)

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