The Back Country
Poetry by Gary Snyder
“A reaffirmation of a back country of the spirit” (Kirkus Reviews), this collection is made up of four sections: “Far West” — poems of the Western mountain country where, as a young man, Gary Snyder worked as a logger and forest ranger; “Far East” — poems written between 1956 and 1964 in Japan where he studied Zen at the monastery in Kyoto; “Kali” — poems inspired by a visit to India and his reading of Indian religious texts, particularly those of Shivaism and Tibetan Buddhism; and “Back” — poems done on his return to this country in 1964 which look again at our West with the eyes of India and Japan. The book concludes with a group of translations of the Japanese poet Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933), with whose work Snyder feels a close affinity. The title, The Back Country, has three major associations: wilderness, the “backward” countries, and the “back country” of the mind with its levels of being in the unconscious.