Monday, April 22, 2013

Gary Snyder: "Prayer for the Great Family"


Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day—
    and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet 
        in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing light-changing leaf
    and fine root-hairs; standing still through the wind
    and rain; their dance is in the flowing spiral grain
        in our mind so be it. 

Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and the silent
    Owl at dawn. Breath of our song
    clear spirit breeze
        in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
    freedoms, and ways; who share with us their milk;
    self-complete, brave, and aware
        in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
    holding or releasing; streaming through all
    our bodies salty seas
        in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
    trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
    bears and snakes sleep—he who wakes us—
        in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Great Sky
    who holds billions of stars—and goes yet beyond that—
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us—
Grandfather Space.
The Mind is his Wife.
       so be it.
after a Mohawk prayer

"Prayer for the Great Family" by Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island. © New Directions, 1994.

Image credit: "Mother Earth," © by Jenness Cortez (originally color). All rights reserved. Artist website:

1 comment :

  1. I find this beautiful, and yet a part of me is bothered by a white man taking a traditional Indigenous prayer and making it his, to be sold for profit. The historical echoes are too loud for me no matter how benign the intent. I suggest people who find this beautiful should read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, if you haven't already, to get historical context and the words of the people directly from they themselves.


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