Friday, July 13, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This

Cutting Loose
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, 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.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. I think we have all written this in our hearts, but so nice to see it reflected back to us in this way. They are beautiful words of wisdom. Thanks for sharing. I think I have found a new poet to read.

  2. Rosemary, I enjoyed reading this poem you chose. I do think it is true that sometimes from sorrow a person sings. Some of the most beautiful poetry and most beautiful songs result, I believe, from these sorrowful times. I have read some of his poetry in the past. And, yes, I agree--he does have a 'good face.'

  3. 57 volumes of poetry beginning at age 48?? - the man was incredible!
    I like the way he describes the cutting loose, accepting the way of being lost and coming to recognize the steady center... A more than beautiful poem, thank you for posting it here.

  4. Yes, thanks for sharing. A new discovery for me.

  5. Wow, it is encouraging how much work this poet produced after age 48. Since I am in my sixties, I had better speed up a tad:)Thanks, Rosemary. You always bring us wonderfully talented poets.

  6. So do I, wish I had written this. Gives me hope at 62... well a little anyway :-).

  7. Well, I'm glad I wasn't the only one who hadn't heard of him before. Certainly a find to treasure. :)

  8. New for me, also and a great discovery. Yes, he has a kind face and this poem whispered with the gentleness of patience, wisdom, and understanding.

  9. Met him, heard him read,didn't actually appreciate him then. I was more impressed then with the angry feminine. Appreciate him now. Thank you.

  10. A very dear poet to me. Thank you for sharing him with some more people, Rosemary.

  11. I have since found out that he was a distant relative of Rob Schackne, whom I have also featured here. :)


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