- Hopewell, NJ: Pied Oxen Printers, 2014.
- 10 1/2 inches x 9 feet 11 inches
- Hand-scroll, linen and Japanese book-cloth, washi endpapers, linen tape ties with bone clasp; walnut end knobs; pegged paulownia wood box with letterpress printed label
Price: $1,500.00 other currencies
Order Nr. 134521
The artwork comprises two letterpress printed images made from original Edo period Zen Buddhist sumi-ink hanging scrolls in the printers collection. The 197 lines of verse are hand-set in American Type Founders Garamond 459 & 460 types, letterpress printed on a Vandercook Universal I proof-press, and bound in a traditional hand-scroll format. Traditional fitted kiri (paulownia) wood box made for each copy by Japanese craftsmen. Sixty copies signed by the poet and printer, of which 10 are reserved for the poet and printer and 50 are for sale.
"The Mountain Spirit" is the 197 line "keystone poem" of the latter sections of Mountains and Rivers Without End, a series of poems that spans much of the poets career. Initially inspired by a Northern Song hand-scroll in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the poem is a conscious effort to recreate the social function of ancient epics. Gary Snyder has noted: My years living in Japan and many walks in the hills and mountains of Kansai and the Japan Alps gave me the nerve to try and bring the "Old Woman of the Mountains" story to North America. In the poem "The Mountain Spirit" I draw on early intuitions of mountain spirits that came as I walked the wild peaks and ridges of North American ranges?the Cascades and the Sierra. Beyond that, I had the sense that "Yamamba"* is a story the North American landscape is ready for, whether the human people are ready for it yet or not. My redaction is significantly different from the East Asian source, though, and was in some parts virtually dictated to me as I sat one night under junipers in the timberline zone of the White Mountains of eastern California. -Excerpted from a talk given by the poet at the Symposium "Occidental Civilization, Buddhism and Zen," held in Paris December 7, 2002, at the Maison de la Culture du Japon, which also featured a performance of The Mountain Spirit (the play) with a traditional Noh musical accompaniment.
*The poet has further noted that "Yamamba"...is not really an old human woman but a timeless crone goddess, sometimes young but ragged, with a wild-haired baby boy. Her story migrated into the aristocratic Buddhist/Samurai culture of the early fifteenth century when she became the main character in the Noh play "Yamamba."