Sam Hamill (born 1943)

Poetry on Gratitude

Sam Hamill:

Ish Province Worksong (1998)
Lives of a Poet:
A Letter to Gary Snyder
Little Epic Elegy (1998)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Ish Province Worksong

The plan
is the work.

The work
is play,

wherein reside
and song

side by side
the way.


Lives of a Poet:
A Letter to Gary Snyder

Nearly forty years
have passed since Kenneth Rexroth
introduced me to
the mountains and rivers of
your poems, the campfire light

flickering softly
across a page of Milton,
animal shadows
and wide, wise innocent eyes
observing from the darkness...

What I want to say,
what I have struggled to say
in this poem, is
that you have been a master
and model, a friend and sage

for those who follow
And if I may paraphrase:
That's what a poet
is— one who recognizes
sacramental relationships.

That is the real work—
reading books or bucking wood
or washing babies—
attentive lives all our days:
the real joy is gratitude.

— First two stanzas & last three stanzas


Little Epic Elegy

            for Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

She is gone who brought
us closer to what we are,
who brought us a world—
a passion for the garden,
a heaven of moons and stars.

And now she attends
our days with the salts of truth
and all the honeys
of conviction. Her vision
returns us into a world

of mystery, awe,
all compassion and delight,
to joy in the work
of being fully human,
always picking up the torch,

passing on the light.

Sam Hamill (born 1943)
"Ish Province Worksong", "Little Epic Elegy"
& "Lives of a Poet: A Letter to Gary Snyder"
BOA Editions, Rochester, 1998, pp. 45, 53-56, 61


Web Links:
Academy of American Poets: Sam Hamill
2005 Lifetime Achievement Award
(Washington Poets Association)
Ploughshares Poems
Poets Against War

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P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (1-15-2006)