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Danger on Peaks: Poems Paperback – September 9, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first gathering of new poetry since the 1996 book-length poem Mountains and Rivers Without End, Snyder seeks a kind of fraught peace, which he cannot sustain; the book begins and ends in upheaval. A mostly prose sequence recalls the recent history of Mount Saint Helens, the Washington State volcano whose eruption in 1980 has been recently (and for now, more softly) reprised. Snyder's speaker remembers climbing it decades ago and sees how flora and fauna are already returning there now: "Who wouldn't take the chance to climb a snowpeak and get the long view?" Landscape, geology, botany and ecology; the poet's Buddhist outlook and its consequences for ethics, and the small pleasures of daily existence, inform the understated, short poems making up most of the volume. Snyder excels in adapting Japanese forms, such as haibun, to American usage. Many of his short poems recall the people—friends, lovers, a daughter—for whom Snyder cares or has cared, an attractive surprise in a poet known more for his rapport with nonhuman nature. Last come five short poems prompted by world events, including the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in spring 2001 and the terrorist attacks later that year: Snyder reminds us that humans are animals too, "beings, living or not," "inside or outside of time."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Snyder's first all-new collection since Axe Handles (1983) takes its title from the last line of a little poem about first seeing Carole, now his wife. It reveals one appetite flaring, ever so subtly, in the mundane precincts of another: he's dishing out a meal, she's receiving it, and he glimpses "her lithe leg," obviously "trained by . . . danger on peaks." This sort of thing happens all the time, of course, but how often is it this well captured? In these poems of his sixties and early seventies, Snyder often works such magic, in poems as compact as those of the Japanese masters he has long studied and in prose-and-verse pieces as crystalline as those in the famous travel books of Basho. From the opening prose-and-verse section on several climbs of Mount St. Helens, through short poems of observation and longer ones on daily life, to more prose-and-verse pieces on journeys near and far, Snyder seems more accepting than ever before. His 1960s eco-Marxist scolding is gone, and he's the wiser for it. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Shoemaker & Hoard; 1st edition (September 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593760809
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593760809
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,683,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Dossey on January 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gary Snyder is America's greatest living poet.his keen, ever perfectly clear vison is based in the glint of rivers and the muted sheen of glistening rocks under jasmine colored waves, bountiful white clouds and spirit incandescent and meteoric.... He writes of concrete on highway 5, Toyota Tercels, and the animistic world of noble pines and bobcat scat..His Haikus are the best ever written...his narrative before certain poems is articulate, revealing and deep without any pretension...For instance: "If you want to view the world you live in climb a rocky mountain with a neat small peak. But the big snow peaks pierce the world of clouds and cranes, rest in the zone of five colored banners and writhing crackling dragons in veils of ragged mist and frost crystals, into a pure transparancy of blue." He knows the "Three Sisters". He has climbed into their deeper essence. He writes of today and of humanity, daily life, of commitment and courage and eating at fast food places...I have long admired his work and this is as good as Axe Handles and Regarding Wave...I have lived in the Pacific Northwest in my younger days..He almost alone, awakened me to its noble grandeaur....One of America's finest poets ever...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've ever enjoyed ANY of Gary Snyder's poetry, then get Danger on Peaks. His first collection of new poems in 20 years, it's elegant and beautiful and meaningful and musical. I read a favorable review of this book in the NY Times, but wasn't prepared for how good it really was. I've been reading it in bed at night, just opening it here and there, and it's a delight. Language has been honed down to essentials-the poet's craft is being mastered here. The poems are tight and taut and finely-crafted-distilled to their essence. What really resonates with me are his experiences in the outdoors, many of the same things I feel but never articulate: trees, mountains, creeks, bobcats, sunsets- awe at the wonders of our planet. But that's just one level of the things going on in this book. It's also a summing-up of 60 years of Gary's life so far, so it's written in variety of styles. This is a wonderful little book. Published by Shoemaker Hoard.
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Format: Paperback
Gary Snyder's Danger on Peaks is both a surprise and a pleasure: surprising since the Pulitzer Prize winning poet spent thirty years on his last work "Mountains and Rivers without End" which was published in 1996, leading many to suspect it might be awhile before another Snyder work would be available, and a pleasure because the unexpected is sometimes most satisfying.

Released in September 2004, Danger on Peaks is a compilation of prose and poetry, derived largely from Snyder's personal journals and notes. The book deals thematically with four events--the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980, the destruction of the great Buddha in Bamiyan near Kabul Afghanistan in March 2001 and the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The bombing of Hiroshima and Mt. St. Helens are tied together in Snyder's experience since he had just descended from a Saint Helens climb when he learned the bomb had been dropped. Nature wrecked a powerful blow to the pristine beauty of Saint Helens some forty years later...There is a disquieting undertone to our tenure here on earth. Snyder describes with Zen-like precision trends in nature and man that leave one with an uneasy feeling--destruction is part of our world.

Having the opportunity to hear Snyder read from this work, I came to realize that the lines of my own life blend so thoroughly with his descriptions, I cannot separate the writing, the places and my direct experience. The places he describes from his years in the Pacific Northwest are my own childhood haunts and his prose drawn from California I know still more intimately. Deftly capturing time, place and the mood of a natural world appears a slight of hand for Snyder.
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Format: Hardcover
This collection of poetry is exactly what every collection should be: intelligent, well written, and entertaining. Every poem is carefully crafted by Snyder and can evoke a wide range of emotions that many modern poets miss out on. The only possibly downside (a tiny one) is that many of these poems are very close to being prose. A very good read on a wide variety of subjects. The best, in my opinion, is a toss-up between "Atomic Dawn" and "One Thousand Cranes".
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Format: Paperback
This is my favorite poetryy book by Snyder, and I've read them all now. The humor is more prevalent, other people are more present, so he doesn't appear as the lone nature environmentalist loner so much, although the environmentalism and love of nature is certainly here in the book. The mix of prose and poetry is interesting. His Buddhist theme of impermanence comes over in his treatment of the Mount St. Helen's volcano explosion.
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Format: Hardcover
If you've never read Gary Snyder's poetry, this is a fabulous starting point; if you have, you'll be amazed at the depth and personal nature of many of these poems. Synder has deserved a bigger audience for such a long time, and this is the book that I hope will gain him wider acclaim. Highly recommended.
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