Excerpt from Old Woodrat's Stinky House

Gary Snyder

From Mountains and Rivers Without End, © 1996 by Gary Snyder.
My thanks to Gary for permission to quote this poem.

Us critters hanging out together
something like three billion years.

Three hundred something million years
the solar system swings around
with all the Milky Way -

Ice ages come one hundred fifty million years apart
last about ten million
then warmer days return -

A venerable desert woodrat nest of twigs and shreds
plastered down with ambered urine
a family house in use eight thousand years,
           & four thousand years of using writing equals
the life of a bristlecone pine -

A spoken language works
for about five centuries,
lifespan of a douglas fir;
big floods, big fires, every couple hundred years,
a human life lasts eighty,
a generation twenty.

Hot summers every eight or ten,
four seasons every year
twenty-eight days for the moon
day/night    the twenty-four hours

& a song might last four minutes,

a breath is a breath.

Gary Snyder

Joshua E. Barnes (barnes@ifa.hawaii.edu)

Last modified: August 25, 2001