A Conversation with Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling is a poet, translator, and essayist. At Naropa University, where he served as Chair of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics from 1993-1996, he teaches poetry, Sanskrit, and wilderness writing. His most recent book of poems, Tea Shack Interior: New & Selected Poetry (Talisman, 2001) brings writings from six earlier books together with previously unpublished work . Other titles include Old Growth: Poems & Notebooks 1986-1994, The India Book: Essays and Translations from Indian Asia, The Road to Ocosingo, and The Cane Groves of Narmada River. Schelling received the Academy of American Poets award for translation in 1992, and in 1996 and 2001 he received Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry grants. Next year La Alameda Press will publish Wild Form, Savage Grammar, a collection of essays on ecology, poetry, Asian studies, and small press publishing.

Shin Yu Pai: How did your interest in translating Indian literature come about?

Andrew Schelling: I grew up close to Concord, Massachusetts. As a child I circumambulated Walden Pond hundreds of times, visited the Thoreau cabin site, and tossed pilgrim stones on the heap started by Bronson Alcott. I developed a deep but unschooled excitement around the Transcendentalist presence in New England's conifer forests and ancient granite outcroppings. You could say I breathed the air of Thoreau and Emerson, who had turned with profound excitement to India's literature. Did you know that at one time Thoreau owned the largest collection of Sanskrit books in this country?

Though official USA government concern with India was pretty muted until India set off a nuclear bomb a few years ago, the counterculture of the 60s—the backdrop to my early life—brought a large and confounding array of things Indic to America. Yoga, incense, paisley patterns, animal-headed goddesses, exquisite music and complex philosophies. Why did India catch on so splendidly outside official culture? There must be a hidden truth in the mistake those 15th-century Europeans made—when their ships bumped up on this continent and they thought they'd gotten to India. That the indigenous people are still called Indians fascinates me. Only in the mind of art does it make sense I suppose.

But I got interested in yoga early on. I heard Ravi Shankar on his 1965 tour to America, and a copy of the Upanishads I found browsing a used bookshop took my breath away. I decided to fulfill my language requirement in college by studying Sanskrit. This was at the University of Rochester in 1971. The Sanskrit class, taught by a lovely Indian gentleman, got cancelled after my first semester. I only discovered years later the reason: federal interest shifted from India to China as the hot spot in Asia. Henry Kissinger made his secret trip to China that year, and American foreign policy changed its focus. The Nixon White House decided China was where it was at, a market of a billion people for Coca-Cola and American grain. So the Indic programs lost financial support. All my friends who were studying Chinese, however, got their ways paid the whole way: trips to Beijing and Taipei, graduate school stipends, jobs in East Asia, offers from the CIA. India mostly held on in America in the subterranean or alternative mind. Which is a place I like to dwell.

I first got resolute about Sanskrit in order to dig deeply into Buddhist and Hindu writings. By the time I studied the language in earnest at Berkeley—1978 to '79—I was already writing poetry. Then almost by accident I happened on a splendid poetry tradition, virtually unknown in the West, lying dormant in the massive old anthologies of Sanskrit. Of the planet's classical traditions India's had been astonishingly neglected. So I set up camp, and now it's been twenty years crouched over banana leaf texts.

SP: Where do you find your source texts? Are they readily available?

AS: Finding the books is always hard. The Rocky Mountain Front Range has no library with even minimal holdings. At Naropa we're slowly building at least a reference library for Sanskrit and Tibetan, but good poetry material is all but unavailable. Generally I travel to Berkeley when I need to do research. A few book dealers in India have been enormously helpful, and they can now ship books air express so I don't need to wait four months for the cargo boat to arrive.

SP: How much of ancient Indian literature remains untranslated?

AS: Most of it has never been translated. There is also quite a bit that has been lost or destroyed over the centuries. Everyone hopes more will emerge, but who knows where it will be found. Do you know a team of Japanese scholars just discovered a Sanskrit copy of the Vimalakirti Sutra in Tibet? I think scholars have a pretty good idea of the best surviving poetry and drama, so some of it has been translated. But translation got off to a rough start. Certain key works got translated into very poor Victorian verse and prose in the 19th century by the British. These colonists frequently could not disguise their disdain for the material. But there is much, much more—I'm talking about the range of Indian literature, not just high art poetry—a stunning amount of mythological material, philosophy, religious poetry, gnomic literature, weird Tantric texts, Buddhist sutras, and so on. This material occurs in many languages, covering several major linguistic families. Not to mention the tribal languages. India is the cradle of storytelling, as Kipling knew, and that impulse continues today.

SP: Is the predominant mood/tone/rasa that you prefer to work in the erotic mode? What are the texts that you are most drawn to translating?

AS: First I want to make a distinction between verse and poetry. Old Indian literature almost all occurred in verse since writing was never widespread. India developed a sophisticated oral culture with sophisticated techniques for conserving important material. Verse is one of the foremost of those techniques—hammer it into shloka form (a prevalent thirty-two syllable pattern). Mathematics, philosophy, medicine—all are likely to appear in verse. Poetry—high art poetry I guess you could call it—is something else, and uses innumerable techniques other than verse structure. I'm drawn to terms like the controversial Sanskrit sandhya-bhasha, "twilight speech." There's a comparable term used for Kabir's work, ulatbamshi, "upside down speech." The implication is that poetic language works in complex, a-logical ways. It's hidden in shadows, it's night-time language, it's speech inverted, it uses sound and sense in unpredictable ways. There's nothing new in this—think of Paul Celan, or Robert Johnson. Emily Dickinson said "tell all the truth but tell it slant." Every culture knows that poetic language is ordinary speech heightened, polished, slanted, crafted, inverted.

India's classical poetry (kavya), which probably derived from an early ritual theater, worked explicitly with rasas, or emotional flavors. John Cage called them the permanent emotions. The erotic (sringara) was considered the most important in India. A poet had to work with all eight or nine rasas, which include humor, pathos, fear, astonishment, and so on. But the tradition took the erotic as paramount.

SP: In the essay "Manuscript Fragments and Eco-Guardians: Translating Sanskrit Poetry" you speak of handbooks which ancient poets referred to. These texts covered rules of grammar, metrics, and even natural history. Do you have access to any of these handbooks, and do you consult any texts as supplemental sources when translating?

AS: The poetics handbooks, or grammars (I call them grimoires) were abundant. Don't think of them as grammars like we think of the word today. They were handbooks for poetic training. Some were yoga texts, regarding poetry as a spiritual discipline. A few are quite famous. I have copies of some of the better known Sanskrit ones, ranging from simple accounts of how a poet should organize his or her day around writing and lovemaking, to massive speculative works that are in fact metaphysical treatises. There are hair-splitting compilations of rules, how one applies figures of speech, metrical patterns, and so forth. Luckily most are written by poets or formidable Tantric philosophers so they remain pretty interesting. Some of their verses are themselves compelling poetry.

One inadvertent gift of certain handbooks is they contain excellent poems lost elsewhere. You know how so much Sappho survived only in the Greek grammar books? Just a half a line, or an odd word somebody cited as an example of brilliant usage. It's similar in India. The 11th-century Jain scholar Hemachandra compiled a book in which he recorded weird vocabulary that had entered Sanskrit from indigenous sources. He saved a number of fine poems from oblivion by citing them in his grammar.

SP: In your preface to "Isha Upanishad," from The India Book (1993), you comment on the process of translating these sacred texts, the contrariness of these verses—"their wild and archaic method of thinking in-verse, founded on sharp metrical changes and a fresh and savage grammar." Your forthcoming book, Wild Form, Savage Grammar references back to your work with Sanskrit language. How has the practice of translating Indian texts informed your practice as a writer?

AS: Henry David Thoreau in his essay "Walking" notes an old Spanish term, grammatica parda. He translates it as tawny grammar, and almost single-handedly tries to invent a wilderness ethos lying in language. He would have been the first American to articulate how language—poetry in particular—is akin not just to culture and civilization, but to wild nature and wilderness. So savage grammar is a notion I took from him. It's the call of the wild you hear in fresh, innovative uses of language. Of grammar.

Forget grammar as the rigid rules of a legal code. Forget grammar as something drilled into children in school. Think of grammar as "grimoire," that old word that signifies a collection of spells and incantations, songs for love, songs for liberation, songs of animal fertility and the fecund soil. The more I study ecology, and the closer I look into languages, the more parallels I see. Grammar would be the ecology of language.

At this point in history we know how imperiled the biosphere is, with all its diverse ecologies. We know that species who have traveled along with us humans for millions of years on the great journey are being snuffed out at an unprecedented rate. How do we stop this? Well, humans need to learn the grammars of the various eco-zones, watersheds, and bioregions.

This stuff—it's now called natural history—makes a surprisingly sensible appearance in the old grammars of India. Guidelines for poetic composition include identifying particular eco-systems with the flora and faun they hold, the weather patterns, the geography and so on. In other words, the belief was that to write poetry you had to know the basics of ecology.

SP: Are there many other translators working on Sanskrit poetry?

AS: Weirdly, almost nobody is seriously working with it. A few scholars have done important work and provided good translations. Barbara Miller, who taught at Barnard, was one of the important few. Her translations, especially of Bhartrihari and Jayadeva, have been heartening and instructive for me. No accomplished American poets however—or even European except the French writer René Daumal-have taken up Sanskrit and its related vernaculars. Compare this with the dozens of fine poets who have devoted generous years to Chinese and Japanese studies, from Ezra Pound and Kenneth Rexroth to Gary Snyder, Cid Corman, Jane Hirshfield, Arthur Sze, David Hinton, and younger writers including yourself.

You couldn't imagine American poetry at this point in time without the examples of East Asia. The influence of Imagism, the sage voice of personal experience that characterizes T'ang Dynasty poets like Tu Fu and Li Po, the notion of a poetry stripped of rhetorical embellishments. And of course the prevalent popularity of haiku which has spawned clubs throughout North America. By contrast how much has American poetry learnt from India's old traditions? There remains something deliciously archaic and underground about its influence. All I have tried to do is bring a candle into the shadows. I'd say my fellow workers are really not the scholars but the singers—who carry the vernacular traditions of Mirabai, Surdas, Kabir, and Tagore into the music hall.

SP: Which projects are nearest to your heart? Does translation come first to you as a writer or do you spend equal time on your own prose and poetry?

AS: I think of my work as having three specific forms: poetry, essays, translations. The poetry comes out of notebooks I'm incessantly keeping. Essays and translations are generally site-specific projects. With poetry I never quite know what's going to happen, when or how it's going to begin, what the ultimate shape will look like. Sometimes essays occur that way too. But translation is a deliberately conceived project. Ron Padgett has an amusing take on translation in one of his essays—he says it's like doing homework. Well, that's a bit stodgy since there's so much I find unpredictable in the task, but he's hit on an element of truth—the methodical nature of it. It may make a difference how old the work is, and how distant the culture. I feel I need to create in the imagination an entire civilization in order to translate from ancient India.

But don't you need to create a whole civilization in order to write a contemporary poem?

SP: I have been thinking about the concept of time in your writing, timelessness, and also of a concept you commented upon in your essay about Sanskrit poetry as an almanac. It becomes very interesting to me that you should lift so much of your writing directly out of the notebook, or journal form, which I think of as having a documentary sort of quality in terms of time, the way everything unfolds in real time.

AS: I do most of my writing into a journal, and like to keep the final work close to that form. There's a rough intimacy you get from keeping the poem close to the moment and place of its birth. You get to keep the roots on, a bit of the dirt too. Things happen in real time as you say—everything can enter. Daily observations, items from the news, meditations on love or poetry, things the children say. I think of the journal as the great open form. The way Basho and other Japanese writers sculpted it into a balance of prose and verse is my model—things enter into relation with each other because of the interdependence of things. Today's account of fighting in Afghanistan, listening to Arundhati Roy on the BBC, helping my daughter prepare for her school play Alice in Wonderland, paying the electricity bill, and working to protect the Arkansas River watershed. They are all connected—they better be!—otherwise we'll collapse into schizophrenia. Buddhists call the interconnection and necessary involvement of things with each other pratitya-samutpada: the co-arising and interconnectedness of critters, inanimate objects, thought forms, and so on. It's really an ecological vision.

SP: Your poems often take a precise, short verse form, zooming in on one aspect of a narrative. What was the experience of writing the longer, sustained poem "Claw Moraine" like?

AS: My temperament seems to be to work in short forms, and then to link them together when I want to create a larger work or get a wider scope. I cut my teeth on poetry in California in the 70s and 80s. One possibility on the innovative writing scene, which people were looking at closely, was the serial poem. Not just the Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer set who kind of figured out the notion. George Oppen was there—a craggy presence—and he would notoriously piece together short poems into rugged philosophic sequences. There were also the marvelous wacky notebook cut-up-and-paste-into-elegant-shape excursions by Phil Whalen. And I always had the example of the beloved Sanskrit poets who'd been dead and gone for a thousand years. Those folk worked similarly—short poems which could get strung together to create a series of multiple dimensions and textures, and which defied conventional narrative structure.

"Claw Moraine" came out of notebooks kept on a trip into the Solu-Khumbu district of Nepal's Himalayan outback in 1986. It was my first sustained sequence poem, and I worked it up when I got back to Berkeley. It is comprised of twenty-five brief poems strung together as a mala or necklace. The poems were meant to be tough and unyielding, like the high altitude terrain where I wrote them. Now, I write all my poetry by stealing bits and pieces of things at hand, and fitting the fragments into distinct shapes. Since there is no one so good to steal from as oneself, this means I need to fill up notebooks to plunder. And notebook entries are notoriously fragmented—maybe unfettered and full of chance encounters with the outside world would be a better way to say it. Closer to life than art.

Notebooks are sharpest, most vivid and most intriguing when kept on the hoof. I cannot imagine a life of writing poetry that confines me to a desk indoors. I need my faculties working—my legs, my eyes, my lungs. These days I don't get much chance to "wander the dusty countries" like India or Nepal, so I've turned to local eco-zones and watersheds of the Southern Rocky Mountains as sites where I can dig into the writing. At this point the natural history journal is a salient model, or even the mountaineer's logbook. Joanne Kyger has taught me a great deal in this regard.

The other form that intrigues me is haibun—the Japanese form (also famously derived from notebook jottings) which balances a terse observational prose with short haiku-like lyric. These get arranged so they resonate in curious ways, not unlike the serial poem. Sei Shonagon, the 11th-century Japanese lady famous for her Pillow Book, is my favorite. What an eye she had for natural history and human behavior! She could name and describe hundreds of botanical species, then pin her companions with an anthropologist's eye. In Japan school children still use her writing as a model of clean, vigorous style.

SP: Your personal interests seem to tend towards a preference for ancient literature and literary forms. In Tea Shack Interior, there are translations of ancient Sanskrit poetry, an entire section devoted to haibun, and a lovely poem, "Little Songs of Love and Wine," versions from the Anacreontea, a classical Greek text. So much of this work concerns itself with ancient themes—love, eros, death—themes that never lose their relevance. At the same time you teach at one of the most non-traditional writing programs in America, The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. How do contemporary poetics inform your own sensibilities and practice as a poet?

What are your general literary interests?

AS: "All times are contemporaneous in the mind." Ezra Pound wrote that. As a poet you imagine all writers are your contemporaries. So you're right: the ancient themes and archaic writers stay near my heart. Translating old verse keeps their words and minds vivid—"the snake-like movements of syntax. "

At the Kerouac School the curriculum consciously folds the past into the present and the present into the past. How can we live without all the generations behind and ahead? Ethnopoetics, mythopoetics, accounts of the mysterious poetry schools Sappho or Phillip Marlowe founded, International approaches to poetry—these things make our school distinct. Right now we are setting in place a translation focus for students. It all feels right up to date.

My own interests in poetry go in many directions. I came into poetry in the Bay Area scene of the 80s, and knew (and also published or was published by) many of the Language poets. Lyn Hejinian, Barrett Watten, Carla Harryman, Bob Grenier, Leslie Scalapino were local figures I saw a lot of, as well as a clutch of younger writers: Ben Friedlander with whom I edited samizdat poetry journals from 1984-1993, Pat Reed, David Levi Strauss, Norma Cole.

More recently my comrades at the Kerouac School have been the most influential. I see them daily, especially Anne Waldman who I lived with for eleven years, and Anselm Hollo. Other close influences are Lorine Niedecker for her peerless bioregional eye. Susan Howe, Robert Duncan, Cecilia Vicuna. I could make endless lists, and include the example of students who have been through the Kerouac School. My deepest interests continue to run toward the literatures of old Asia (since I've taken the time to study the languages), and to anything that holds promise for eco-poetics or bioregional studies.

One last figure I should mention. I've been hoping to write a book on Jaime de Angulo ever since I dropped out of Berkeley in 1979. No professor would sponsor a thesis I wanted to write on de Angulo. He was an anarchist Spanish anthropologist who'd come to North America early in the 20th century. He made himself into a crack linguist, working on Native American languages that were threatened with extinction. He hung out with D.H. Lawrence, translated for Carl Jung, was pals with Mabel Dodge Luhan, Robinson Jeffers and Henry Miller. Near the end of his life he enjoyed a crackling correspondence with Ezra Pound. Pound championed his work and helped get him published.

In the Bay Area, before his death in 1949, he taught Jack Spicer linguistics and employed Robert Duncan as his secretary. His writings are very wild-game American, and much underrated. But in Northern California he's something of a legendary figure. His best known work, Indian Tales, has been continuously in print in a bowdlerized edition. The real edition is a series of broadcasts he did for KPFA radio in 1949, full of anthropological lore, vanished languages, California Indian songs used for hunting, gambling, and puberty rites. Jaime homesteaded at Big Sur before the bohemians got there, built his house, raised horses, hunted his meat, drank crazily, and recorded dozens of Indian languages under the patronage of Franz Boas. For a hobby he would do things like learn Chinese and translate the Tao Te Ching. I keep in mind his hard living and practical skills—that he could homestead a house as well as write splendidly, or go into the field, make friends, and write up languages that had never been recorded. His example is a good balance to the sort of writers so common today, who come out of graduate schools and write very smart but rather cloistered poetry.

SP: Knowing more about your general literary interests sheds some light on the poem "Riparian" which appears in Tea Shack Interior. It is an interesting departure from your usual style of writing—of course I would attribute that to it being a collaboratively written piece.

AS: "Riparian" was a collaboration with Anne Waldman. We passed a notebook back and forth sitting alongside the St. Vrain River. We stole some ideas from Basho, and considered some of the unattractive trophy-home subdivisions in a once lovely Colorado canyon. The idea here was to get something of the American landscape. But I also like that notion of the almanac—the way the old Sanskrit anthologies were put together: watching the seasons go round. There's a similar strain that runs through European poetry: poems of the seasons. You get it in haiku as well. These are very real concerns, like people discussing the weather when they meet. We are a species that developed for millions of years as gatherers and hunters, more recently as agricultural folk. Talking about the weather, or what's happening with the forests and rivers, must be hard-wired into our genetic system. We just sit and watch the river flow...

SP: You have had an abiding interest in and commitment to small press publishing, having co-edited magazines such as Jimmy & Lucy's House of "K" and Dark Ages Clasp the Daisy Root. Several of your books have been brought forward by independent publishers like Pleasure Boat Studios and Rodent Press. What are your thoughts on web-based publishing, and do you think of e-publishers as contributing to the demise of small presses?

AS: Right now I'm teaching a class at Naropa on small press publishing. I introduce it by asking what is the small press and what makes it small. Here are a few facts. There exist close to 50,000 publishing outfits in this country. More than ninety percent of book sales in the USA however belong to thirty publishers, most owned by multinational media conglomerates and based in mid-town Manhattan. These thirty publishers are the Big Press. What makes them big? Only the money they command. They produce a limited range of very predictable titles.

Outside of that circumscribed space there is and has been for decades a profusion of little publishers—little if you gauge their influence in dollars only. These are prolific, un-policed, unpredictable. They are funny, scary, serious, vegetative, full of piss and vinegar, fueled by optimism, conviction, controversy. They are not a thing—certainly not a thing called "the small press." They are everything outside the painfully narrow marketing practices of the media conglomerates.

In literary practice the small press is the writers themselves. I know hardly any accomplished writer who has not at one time edited or published a magazine, a journal, or been involved with a book publishing enterprise. Or at least created a broadside, a piece of mail art, a greeting card. Or organized a reading series (the oral small press), or circulated a tape or CD of somebody's work. Here's how easy it is. For seven or eight years Anne Waldman and I have put together winter solstice greeting cards. We write a poem or a group of poems. Then we find a respected letterpress printer. We design a card or little book, buy the paper, thread or ink or envelopes or whatever is necessary for production. And we pay the printer for his or her labor. We mail these things out instead of Christmas cards to a list of about 250 people. These are elegant hand-made objects, the best of the small press if I might say so. And—instructively—it costs us less than if we bought Hallmark cards. This includes paying the printer.

There's always a crew of energetic young writers at The Kerouac School creating a magazine or a publishing cooperative, or working late hours on the hand presses in the Harry Smith Print Shop.

So from where I stand I don't see a demise of the small press. If there exists some kind of problem or crisis I'd look to one cause—and it isn't e-publishing. It is the disappearance of independent, community-based bookstores in this country. Independent bookshops are not disappearing by accident—they are going under because of deliberate predatory business practices conducted by chain bookstores. The chains, in collusion with the corporate publishing houses, are limiting the flow of information to a very narrow trickle. Until our economic situation changes—or someone figures a way around the increasing monopolization of publishing—e-publishing may be one way people with alternative ideas get to exchange them. Meanwhile groups of young writers continue to form collectives and cooperatives, send things through the mail, and make and swap books and chapbooks and poems.

The advances in technology actually have spurred the small press. Today almost anyone with a home computer can design lovely books. And with much less of the labor it used to take when we worked with typewriters and glue sticks and scissors, bottles of whiteout and so forth.

Old China had the image of Zen poet Han Shan who laughed like crazy and wrote his poems on pieces of tree bark, scattering them through the mountains. North America has poets who laugh like crazy in front of their obsolete hand presses or state-of-the-art desktop modules, and scatter their poems through the postal system.

SP: To me, some of the strongest works in Tea Shack Interior are the poems that evoke the power and beauty of nature. In "Cheyenne Still Life" you write, "It is in general the unexplored that attracts us...yet poets and musicians paw over worn mythologies, and neglect the grand ecology theater. Consider the butcher bird—(four hours more 'til we hit Green River)—who impales grasshopper or frog on a spear of barbed wire, and returns several months later to eat his stash. O Composition in white and blue. O Cubist Prairie!" Birds appear again in "Haibun (Western Tanager)" where they are compared to "vernacular. " There's also the Thoreau quote that starts off your collection of essay A Handful of Seeds that talks about the naming of things. These pieces speak of the beauty and history contained within nature, and of your awareness of the natural world

AS: It was the Eco-activist Aldo Leopold who used that phrase about poets pawing over worn mythologies. Isn't this one of the crises of American consciousness? From the outset the settlers here in North America felt at a disadvantage in terms of history and culture. Trying to take up the mythological systems of Europe, or Asia, or Africa, feels gallingly disloyal to the actuality of this continent as living space. North America doesn't have those old gods. They are starting to look like unattractive, worn-out baggage. What North America does have is open space, and lots of it: Wildlands, extensive unpopulated desert zones, wildlife, vast rivers and their tributaries with extensive riparian communities, National Forests, mountain ranges, BLM grazing lands. There's been a tumultuous history of conservation, some of it in line with Native American views of the sanctity of specific landscapes. Gertrude Stein opens The Geographic History of the United States saying, "In the United States there is more space where nobody is than where anybody is. This is what makes America what it is."

It's that space where "nobody" is—no human beings but plenty of other somebodies—that provides an immediate, visceral mythology. Even in the popular mind. Think of sports mascots—for decades they were named after local (vernacular) critters: bears, orioles, blue jays, wildcats, 'gators, bison, wolverines. If you want a true American mythology you have two choices: natural history or Walt Disney. I can have fun with Walt Disney up to a point—but this is where I break from a lot of postmodernism. I just can't get with the sheer exploitation and imperialism for too long. Even making fun of it is to succumb to its sorcery. Natural history seems more real. It's been around longer, it's got good science to back it. Ernest Fenollosa, in the essay on Chinese characters that Ezra Pound edited, says poetry agrees with science not logic. Give me science—not the logic of the free market.

The other, more serious perspective of course, is that environmental degradation and ecological collapse are desperate at this point. Air, water, soil, plants, animals, people, are all polluted-threatened, endangered, blinking out. "Extinction is forever." Think what the current war in Afghanistan is doing to those rugged-looking but enormously fragile high-altitude mountain and river eco-systems at the moment. The only way to turn things around, to protect biodiversity, conserve key species habitat, and also provide humans with dignity and safety, is to know how the natural orders work. What protects them, what damages them? Poetry can provide something here—a vivid engagement with the grand ecology theater. This coupled to the instinct, or the vision—the oldest vision—as Blake put it, "Everything that lives is Holy."

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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Summer 2002 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2002