Tiny Energies

21 November 2007 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment

I recently checked out a book of Gary Snyder’s poetry titled Left Out in the Rain:  New Poems 1947-1985.  Part VII of this book takes its title, “Tiny Energies,” from a Howard T. Odum quote:

For such situations of a few combinations found in messages, the energy content as a fuel is far too negligible to measure or consider compared to the great flows of energy in the food chain.  Yet the quality of this energy (tiny energies in the right form) is so high that in the right control circuit it may obtain huge amplications and control vast flows of power. (Environment, Power, and Society)

I invoked Odum by naming my sculpture after one of his key concepts–eMergy.  It doesn’t surprise me that Snyder was reading Odum back in the 1970s and incorporated his notion of “embodied energy” in this sequence of poems.  As a Zen monk and nature poet, these poems capture natural manifestations of small energies:  a dead dragonfly, bees, the crickets and meadowlarks who sung at Custer’s last battlefield.  In the following poem, Snyder invokes the religious form of the “gatha,” sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith:

 Gatha for All Threatened Beings

Ah Power that swirls us together
Grant us bliss
Grant us the great release
And to all beings
Vanishing, wounded,
In trouble on earth,
We pass on this love
May their numbers increase

What if all of our prayers recognized the effects of how we harness energy?  What if all of our prayers acknowledged a genuine love of non-human life?


Entry filed under: energonomics, poetry.

Remembering in Public The Poet as Energonomist

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November 2007
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