By William Stafford (1914-1993)
Sometimes from sorrow, for no reason,
you sing. For no reason, you accept
the way of being lost, cutting loose
from all else and electing a world
where you go where you want to.
Arbitrary, a sound comes, a reminder
that a steady center is holding
all else. If you listen, that sound
will tell you where it is and you
can slide your way past trouble.
Certain twisted monsters
always bar the path - but that's when
you get going best, glad to be lost,
learning how real it is
here on earth, again and again.
I expect that American readers will probably be aware of William Stafford, but I have only just found out about him. I'm currently doing an e-course run by Fiona Robyn, called Writing and Spiritual Practice. In a recent email to course participants, Fiona quoted this poem in full. It spoke to my heart.
I did some research online and discovered that Stafford was a poet of the ordinary, finding the splendour in it and showing it to us in new ways. He was also prolific, the author of 57 volumes of poetry — despite a late start, with his first major collection published when he was 48.
He was an academic, a translator, a conscientious objector, a friend of Robert Bly and James Dickey ... all of which you can find out online as I did.
You can also find his poetry online, at Poets.org, American Poems, Famous Poets and Poems.... There are audio clips too. And his books are still sold on Amazon.
I think he has a good face, don't you? His poems shine with goodness, too.
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