How Poetry Comes to Him: An Excursion to Gary Snyder’s Wild Poetics
Snyder’s poem “How Poetry Comes to Me” (1992) dramatizes poetic inspiration as a visitation of something wild. Poetic creation is an encounter with wildness in a natural environment. Such scenes must be discovered on foot; the physical connection with nature precedes inspiration. I read the poem as a myth of origins, distinguishing three levels on which walking is significant. First, as an enabling anecdote; second, as an allegory of poetic inspiration; and third, as a physical code that communicates between the natural world and poetic shaping. These three levels structure my readings. I limit myself to poems written between the mid-1950s and the end of the century and evoking rambles in northern California.