January 17th is William Stafford’s birthday. If you live in the Bellingham area please consider dropping by Village Books that Tuesday for some poetry reading of Williams.
Williams was a true American poet. Some interesting facts about his life: his first major book of poetry was published when he was forty-eight years old and in 1970 he was appointed the twentieth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
Here is one of my favorite poems:
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.
|Happy Birthday William Stafford
January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993