What You Should Know to Be a Poet


all you can about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
names of stars, and the movements of the planets
                        and the moon.

your own six senses, with a watchful and elegant mind.

at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;

dreams.
the illusory demons and illusory shining gods;

kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels
                              and maidens perfum'd and golden–

& then love the human: wives     husbands     and friends.

children's games, comic books, bubble-gum,
the weirdness of television and advertising.

work, long dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and livd with and finally lovd. exhaustion,
                              hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, extasy
silent solitary illumination, entasy

real danger.     gambles.     and the edge of death.


Gary Snyder, No Nature: New and Selected Poems, Pantheon Books, 1992.