Danger on Peaks (Washington: Shoemaker and Hoard, 2004) is a slim book of poems from a man who is now in his mid seventies. As usual the poems are spare and understated, and reach for the clarity of a summer morning in the high Sierras. The tone of the collection seems somewhat elegaic, largely due to the number of poems which recollect experiences Synder had in the fifties or later. As usual we are introduced to the quality of simple, hard work amongst the truckies and loggers of the US, and taken into simple and limpid moments amongst the granite of the Californian mountains. This isn’t Snyder’s best collection in my view, but it does contain a handful of poems worth reading.
The last two lines of the book are my favourite, and are translated from Chinese. You can almost hear the quiet, koan-like intonations of Synder’s voice behind these words:
hail all noble woke-up big-heart beings;
hail – great wisdom of the path that goes beyond