Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Citydance and Prayer for the Great Family, 1974

Anna Halprin's Citydance 1977 traversed the city of San Francisco. You can see the journey it took in the map below.

The day was bookended with a recitation of Gary Snyder’s poem Prayer for the Great Family. The poem was performed by the poet Kush first thing in the morning as the sun rose, and again in the late afternoon as the day’s festivities drew to a close.

Snyder’s Turtle Island, which Prayer for the Great Family comes from, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.

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 wind
        and rain; their dance is in the flowering spiral grain
                            in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and 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
Gary Snyder, Turtle Island New Directions, New York, 1974, pp. 24-25


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