Tuesday, April 01, 2008

National Poetry Month, Day 1: William Stafford

Happy National Poetry Month!

Here's my first entry. I hope to post something every day this month--hope you'll come back and visit and forward to others.

William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1914. He wrote 50 books before his death in 1993. One of his books, Traveling Through the Darkness won the National Book Award when he was 48 (in 1963). He had a close friendship with poet Robert Bly and also had a habit of writing daily before dawn, which he did for decades. "He was marvelously funny," writes poet Naomi Shihab Nye, "...he embraced and saluted the process of working. He meandered, and valued the turns...He dug in the ground. He picked things up and looked at them....He answered people's letters diligently, often closing with 'Adios.'"

One Evening

On a frozen pond a mile north of Liberal
almost sixty years ago I skated wild circles
while a strange pale sun went down.

A scattering of dry brown reeds cluttered
the ice at one end of the pond, and a fitful
breeze ghosted little surface eddies of snow.

No house was in sight, no tree, only
the arched wide surface of the earth
holding the pond and me under the sky.

I would go home, confront all my years, the rangled
events to come, and never know more than I did
that evening waving my arms in the lemon-colored light.

Ask Me

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
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

If you want to read more poems by William Stafford, visit this link at poets.org (a great resource for poetry in general).

1 comment:

Jessica said...

"Ask Me" is definitely in my Hall of Favorite Poems, and one of my mom's favorites as well. Great way to kick off National Poetry Month, LD!

For National Poetry Month, I want to read more poems out loud and write them out in my own handwriting.