bringing that seeing into language

The idea of a poetry of minimal surface texture, with its complexities hidden at the bottom of the pool, under the bank, a dark and old lurking, no fancy flavor, is ancient. It is what is "haunting" in the best of Scottish and English ballads and is at the heart of the Chinese shi (lyric) aesthetic. Du Fu said, "The ideas of a poet should be noble and simple." Zen says, "Unformed people delight in the gaudy, and in novelty. Cooked people delight in the ordinary."

There are poets who claim that their poems are made to show the world through the prism of language. Their project is worthy. There is also the work of seeing the world without any prism of language, and to bring that seeing into language. The latter has been the direction of most Chinese and Japanese poetry.

- Gary Snyder, from the afterword to Rip Rap and Cold Mountain Poems.

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