Friday, March 27, 2015

I Wish I'd Written This

Being a Person                                                                                                         

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own 

call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone's dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn't be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.

              - William Stafford

You can see why I wish I had written this. Sigh. Rosemary is a bit under the weather, today, my friends, so  I am bringing this poet to you, who wrote so wonderfully (and prolifically) during his lifetime. Stafford lived from 1914 until 1993, but he got a bit of a late start as a published poet. He was 46 years old when his first major collection of poetry was published.  Traveling Through the Dark (whose title poem is one of his best-known) won the 1963 National Book Award for Poetry. Not a bad start! During his lifetime, his body of work totaled some 22,000 poems. 

Stafford observed a quiet daily routine of writing. His work focused on the ordinary events of daily life. He died of a heart attack on August 28, 1993, having just written the lines:

'You don't have to
prove anything,' my mother said.
'Just be ready
for what God sends.'

Wow. Stafford was born in Kansas, and received his BA from the University of Kansas in 1937.

He was a pacifist as well as a poet. When drafted in 1942, he declared himself a conscientious objector, and performed alternative service in forestry and soil conservation (for $2.50 a month!) from 1942 until 1946, in Arkansas, California and Illinois. While in California, he met and married Dorothy Hope Franz, and they had four children, including one child who died, two artists, and the poet and essayist Kim Stafford.

He received his MA from the University of Kansas in 1947. His Masters' thesis, the prose memoir Down In My Heart: Peace Witness in Wartime, was published in 1948.

William Stafford was appointed 20th Century Consultant to the Library of Congress in 1970, a position now known as Poet Laureate. He taught, during his lifetime, at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, Manchester College in Indiana, San Jose State, California, then returned to Lewis and Clark.

Not only do I wish I had written this poem, but his dedication to his craft inspires me to work harder on my own. 

Feel better, Rosemary! For any errors or oversights in my presentation of this material, I humbly apologize.

source: Wikipedia
Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders 


  1. Another poet to add to my long list of poets I need to read (that's a good thing). Thanks,Sherry

  2. What an incredible person! Thanks for posting Sherry :D

  3. Thanks for introducing William Stafford to us Sherry. Every line of this poem is like a mantra.

  4. Excellent poem / article on William Stafford, Sherry. I really like these lines:

    "Suddenly this dream you are having matches
    everyone's dream, and the result is the world."

  5. I love those lines too, Mary. Rosemary, rest well, my friend! Hope you are feeling better soon. You are missed. But don't push yourself, give yourself time to recover.

  6. wonderful poem, 'Being Human', wonderful poet, William Stafford. if only many more of us could imagine ourselves being this, we would all be part of everything, all be one.

    gracias mi amiga

  7. Wow, gorgeous. Thanks, Sherry. Hope you feel better soon, Rosemary!

  8. Thank you for the introduction to William Stafford, Sherry. I like what you shared of his poems and of his life.

  9. Many thanks, dear Sherry, for offering to step in and doing it so beautifully! It is indeed a help to be able to shrug off responsibilities just now and have a good rest. And I love the poem you have chosen and the information you give about this remarkable poet. I am devoted to the idea that the 'ordinary' is what counts. :)

  10. I am more than happy to help out, Rosemary. I know there are times when we simply need to rest and recover. I dont do as wonderful a job as you do, but I know our people are very kind. Feel better!

  11. I'm late to comment (as usual), but so glad I didn't miss this post. I love the poem you cite here. I wish I'd written it too. What a sensitive and wise poet. I must read more of his work. Rosemary, I hope you get well real soon. Thank you Sherry for not letting the post go unpublished. You did a great job!

  12. Caught my eye, this did; a good one, Sherry ~

  13. Love your choice Sherry ~ Short but powerful, thanks ~


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