Search Results For "William Stafford" "poem for"

A Poem For Thursday

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 16 2014 @ 7:37pm


“An Archival Print” by William Stafford:

God snaps your picture—don’t look away—
this room right now, your face tilted
exactly as it is before you can think
or control it. Go ahead, let it betray
all the secret emergencies and still hold
that partial disguise you call your character.

Even your lip, they say, the way it curves
or doesn’t, or can’t decide, will deliver
bales of evidence. The camera, wide open,
stands ready; the exposure is thirty-five years
or so—after that you have become
whatever the veneer is, all the way through.

Now you want to explain. Your mother
was a certain—how to express it?—influence.
Yes. And your father, whatever he was,
you couldn’t change that. No. And your town
of course had its limits. Go on, keep talking—
Hold it. Don’t move. That’s you forever.

(From Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by William Stafford © the Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted by kind permission of Graywolf Press. Photo by Ethan R.)

A Poem For Sunday

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 12 2014 @ 10:10am


“Evidence” by William Stafford:

First, this face—history did it,
winters, two world wars, long
days bent in the fields in the sun,
a few blows, fear, sorrow.

This face is evidence left over
when those years denied what happened
and stole away, the shell still whispering
of treasure and wreckage in the sea.

And then beyond this mask—that’s where
everything else begins to wake up:
what the wars were about, how the field boss
discovered a truth God had in mind.

There’s a bell somewhere. This face
looks up, the way old people listen.

(From The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems by William Stafford © 1998 by the Estate of William Stafford. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. Photo by Pawel Maryanov)

A Poem For Saturday

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 11 2014 @ 8:32am


A Dish reader recently alerted us to the fact that 2014 is the centennial anniversary of the poet William Stafford’s birth in Hutchinson, Kansas. (He resided in Oregon for most of his adult life, was named Oregon’s Poet Laureate in 1975, and died there in 1993.) In 1998, Graywolf Press published The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems. The first two sections are devoted to poems Stafford wrote in the last two years of his life. This weekend we’ll be running three poems from The Way It Is and, in the future, we’ll post more from the new volume Graywolf has just released to mark the centennial, Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford. Here’s “Identities” by William Stafford:

If a life could own another life—
a wolf a deer, a fish a bird,
a man a tree—who would
exchange a life with me?

Dark in the forest a path
goes down; soft as moss
a voice comes on: my hand
on bark, my stilled face alone—

Then water, then gravel, then stone.

(From The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems by William Stafford © 1998 by the Estate of William Stafford. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. Photo by Mike Haller)

A Poem For Sunday

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 7 2009 @ 7:04pm


Traveling Through The Dark, by William Stafford.

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.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason–
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.

– continued here.

(Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty.)