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Reviews 89 winged / Flash of seabirds,” “Wound around the neck and wounded place,” and several others. Imagery becomes a part of form in Ferguson’s poems, with the water and stone in his opening “Three Seascapes” working gracefully through such epic features as Aurora and the Sirens, to become transformed into light. The actual process of transformation reveals itself in such poems as “Bright Winter Vision at the Airport” and “U.S. 64, N.M.” Nor is the imagery restricted to stone, water, and light. Another favorite image, and one quite challenging because of its timeless popularity, is the rose. Ferguson’s gentle punning utilizes the rose, I think, with poetic integrity, as we can see in the opening and closing lines of the first stanza in “Aubade” : These two pools hold the rose of the morning’s grief This flower rose from a well of human sorrow. The image crops up again quite deliberately in “Day Rises in the Rose,” in which Ferguson demonstrates his particular rhyming style as well when Not one of the children knows Why, nor how, nor where blood Goes if the day though it rose As a rose blows to pieces. In all his control and stanzaic regularity, Ferguson evokes from his interplay of images thought patterns that do become almost baffling at times. In spite of its power, the water-liar, a resultant form of his water imagery, leaves us floundering for meaning. Ambiguity is no doubt part of a poet’s purpose, and Ferguson’s water-liar remains such a charming as well as powerful image that I am happy to flounder for it. So the puzzling ambiguity does not detract from poetic effect. However Ferguson’s ideas may waver and flicker from concrete object to abstruse impression, they stimulate the reader in both their intricacy and their graceful artistic flow. DOWLING G. CAMPBELL, Northern Arizona University The Old Ways. By Gary Snyder. (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1977. 96 pages, $2.50.) There are six essays in this collection, of varying power, with “The Yogin and the Philosopher” and “The Politics of Ethnopoetics” being prob­ ably the most important. In these, Snyder’s voice is forthright and recom­ mending, positive in a way that few American writers have dared since the age of the transcendentalists. In the end, what he is saying amounts to a contemporary “Democratic Vistas,” except that Snyder’s analysis is more scientific, more generally nature-oriented, and his prose a lot more direct. 90 Western American Literature What we are witnessing in the world today is an unparalleled waterfall destruction of a diversity of human cultuies; plant species; animal species; of the richness of the biosphere and the millions of years of organic evolution that have gone into it. In a sense ethnopoetics is like some field of zoology which is studying disappearing species. We must have a concern with this because our subject matter is rapidly disappearing and we, (and 1 mean “we” to mean everyone, regardless of his color or ethnic back­ ground, who is now plugged into the fossil fuel industrial society, we are all that “we”), we are the ones who are in some inexorable, karmic, historical way keeping it going down. In the “old ways,” which are of course deeper in us than recently habituated patterns, we operate in partnership with that “richness of the biosphere.” Poetry which comes from living the old way, living that is with specific and local knowledge of plants, animals, streams, soils, and weather, rather than a generalized “appreciation,” such poetry makes a bridge from overcivilization into the primitive. But for Snyder, . . ‘primi­ tive’ is not a word that means past, but primary, and future.” Whitman’s function for poetry is extended: “These poesies to come will help us learn to be people of knowledge in this universe in community with the other people — non-human included — brothers and sisters.” Like Robert Bly in his great essay, “I Came Out of the Mother Naked,” Snyder is digging down below surface rationalism, and venturing into the prehistory that comes before the history that is written by the civilized patriarchate. However, in The Old Ways he relies not on...


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