William Stafford - Poet William Stafford Poems

William Stafford

William Stafford Poems

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
...

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
...

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
...

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.
...

There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot--air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
...

The light along the hills in the morning
comes down slowly, naming the trees
white, then coasting the ground for stones to nominate.
...

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
...

Tomorrow will have an island. Before night
I always find it. Then on to the next island.
These places hidden in the day separate
and come forward if you beckon.
...

It is time for all the heroes to go home
if they have any, time for all of us common ones
to locate ourselves by the real things
we live by.
...

Day after day up there beating my wings
with all the softness truth requires
I feel them shrug whenever I pause:
they class my voice among tentative things,
...

In line at lunch I cross my fork and spoon
to ward off complicity--the ordered life
our leaders have offered us. Thin as a knife,
our chance to live depends on such a sign
...

We would climb the highest dune,
from there to gaze and come down:
the ocean was performing;
we contributed our climb.
...

Paw marks near one burrow show Graydigger
at home, I bend low, from down there swivel
my head, grasstop level--the world
goes on forever, the mountains a bigger
...

Even in the cave of the night when you
wake and are free and lonely,
neglected by others, discarded, loved only
by what doesn't matter--even in that
...

1
Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait. A dim feeling comes
...

My family slept those level miles
but like a bell rung deep till dawn
I drove down an aisle of sound,
nothing real but in the bell,
...

In the late night listening from bed
I have joined the ambulance or the patrol
screaming toward some drama, the kind of end
that Berky must have some day, if she isn't dead.
...

With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach


We would climb the highest dune,
...

Setting a trotline after sundown
if we went far enough away in the night
sometimes up out of deep water
...

The light by the barn that shines all night
pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.

A little breeze comes breathing the fields
...

William Stafford Biography

William Edgar Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on January 17, 1914, to Ruby Mayher and Earl Ingersoll Stafford. The eldest of three children, Stafford grew up with an appreciation for nature and books. During the Depression the family moved from town to town as Earl Stafford searched for jobs. William helped to support the family also, by delivering papers, working in the sugar beet fields, raising vegetables, and as an electrician's mate. In 1933 Stafford graduated from high school in Liberal, Kansas, and attended Garden City and El Dorado junior colleges, graduating from the University of Kansas in 1937. In 1939 Stafford enrolled at the University of Wisconsin to begin graduate studies in Economics, but by the next year he had returned to Kansas to earn his master's degree in English. When the United States entered World War II in 1941 Stafford was drafted before he could obtain his degree. As a registered pacifist, Stafford worked in camps and projects for conscientious objectors in Arkansas, California, and Illinois. He spent 1942 to 1946 in these work camps and was paid $2.50 per month for assigned duties such as fire fighting, soil conservation, and building and maintaining roads and trails. In 1944 while in California Stafford met and married Dorothy Frantz, the daughter of a minister of the Church of the Brethren. Following the war Stafford taught one year at a high school, spent a year working for relief organization Church World Service, and finished his master's degree at the University of Kansas in 1947. His master's thesis, memoirs of his time spent as a conscientious objector, was published as a book of prose, Down in My Heart (Brethren Publishing House, 1947). In 1948 Stafford moved to Oregon to teach at Lewis and Clark College. Though he traveled and read his work widely, he taught at Lewis and Clark until his retirement in 1980. His first major collection of poems, Traveling Through the Dark, was published when Stafford was forty-eight. It won the National Book Award in 1963. He went on to publish more than sixty-five volumes of poetry and prose. Among his many honors and awards were a Shelley Memorial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Western States Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry. In 1970, he was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position currently known as the Poet Laureate). Although his father appears more often in his poetry, Stafford has stated that his mother's presence and behavior influenced his writing. His poetry was strongly influenced by both the people and the plains region of his youth and young adulthood. Stafford's poems are often deceptively simple. Like Robert Frost's, however, they reveal a distinctive and complex vision upon closer examination. Among his best-known books are The Rescued Year (1966), Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems (1977), Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer's Vocation (1978), and An Oregon Message (1987). William Stafford died at his home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, on August 28, 1993.)

The Best Poem Of William Stafford

A Ritual To Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford Comments

Norbert Hirschhorn 05 April 2005

William Stafford's Traveling Through the Dark: I am surprised how the poem is always misread. The doe 'had stiffened already, almost cold', i.e, several hours along since death, which makes it impossible for a fawn to be still alive. The whole premise of the poem is thus false, and the dilemma inauthentically presented. Stafford was a man who understood nature and creatures, and so I have to wonder what was he thinking in creating this bit of fiction.

37 38 Reply
Shelly Mccausland 24 January 2014

Recently watched Oregon Art Beat where they featured William Stafford. Loved, loved his poetry.....it's how I think. It's inspiring me to get back into writing myself.

12 13 Reply
Pamela Rogers 17 January 2015

Can someone tell me the name of the poem by William Stafford that someone on Oregon Art Beat recently referred to as having helped her during a time of grief? It ended with the sky, the sky, the sky. The title was something about a little girl and a fence for something? I've not located it as yet. Thanks for any help.

8 8 Reply
T B 22 January 2015

The Little Girl by the Fence at School

0 0
Danny Smith 06 October 2018

Hello Pamela Rogers THE LITTLE GIRL BY THE FENCE AT SCHOOL Grass that was moving found all shades of brown, moved them along, flowed autumn away galloping southward where summer had gone. And that was the morning someone’s heart stopped and all became still. A girl said, “Forever? ” And the grass. “Yes. Forever.” While the sky — The sky — the sky — the sky.

4 5 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 14 July 2021

(1978) , and An Oregon Message (1987) . William Stafford died at his home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, on August 28,1993.

0 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 14 July 2021

and complex vision upon closer examination. Among his best-known books are The Rescued Year (1966) , Stories That Could Be True: New and Collected Poems (1977) , Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer's Vocation

0 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 14 July 2021

His poetry was strongly influenced by both the people and the plains region of his youth and young adulthood. Stafford's poems are often deceptively simple. Like Robert Frost's, however, they reveal a distinctive

0 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 14 July 2021

William Stafford introvert great North American poet: Although his father appears more often in his poetry, Stafford has stated that his mother's presence and behavior influenced his writing.

0 0 Reply
Elizabeth Marchitti 28 November 2019

Why can't I find his Juncos poem? There was a whole art show based on his line " I love their clean little coveralls." I have most of his books but don't know which one to look in. I love William Stafford. I love juncos.

0 5 Reply

William Stafford Popularity

William Stafford Popularity

Close
Error Success