Friday, March 28, 2014

Looking For Something: William Stafford

There was a new display at my local library: William Stafford, pacifist.  I was intrigued.  Would I actually find the time to read his works, I took a chance and checked out a couple of books.  For a week they sat, collecting dust.  I expressed wanting something rich and contemplative to read to my husband.  His response, "You'll find something."

The next afternoon I made myself a cup of tea, pulled the chair close to the fire, and opened, Ask Me, 100 essential poems by William Stafford.  It was perfect.  I love the layers that poetry allows.  As I was reading I was reflecting on the Bible and how much of the Bible is written in poetry.  There was a similarity in the works of Stafford: a seeing, reflecting, yearning, and searching...the same that I find when I read the Psalms.

This is what I needed.  Over the course of the week I gave myself rest and read this man's thoughts.

I even shared a couple with my 9-year-old son and he smiled as he read.  We read together, "With Kit, Ag 7, at the Beach."

The stanza that we both liked the best was:

"How far could you swim, Daddy,
in such a storm?"
"As far as was needed," I said,
and as I talked, I swam.

I also loved "Passing Remark"

In scenery I like flat country.
In life I don't like much to happen.

In personalities I like mild colorless people.
And in colors I prefer gray and brown.

My wife, a vivid girl from the mountains,
says, "Then why did you choose me?"

Mildly I lowered my brown eyes-
there are so many things admirable people do not understand.

Other favorites of mine were/are:

"Once in the 40s"
"In the Oregon Country"
"First Grade"
"A Farewell, Age Ten"
"Easter Morning"

I'm always gravitating toward memoirs, biographies, and fictions, but why not a book of poetry from time to time.  Its a different type of indulgence.

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