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By William E. Stafford

The well rising without sound,

the spring on a hillside,

the plowshare brimming through deep ground

everywhere in the field—


The sharp swallows in their swerve

flaring and hesitating

hunting for the final curve

coming closer and closer—


The swallow heart from wingbeat to wingbeat

counseling decision, decision:

thunderous examples. I place my feet

with care in such a world.


“The Well Rising” copyright 1960, 1998 the Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted from The Way It Is with the permission of Graywolf Press. www.graywolfpress.org

Source: The Darkness Round Us Is Deep (HarperPerennial, 1993)

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Poet Bio

William E. Stafford
Born in Kansas, Stafford lived with other conscientious objectors in work camps in Arkansas and California during the 1940’s. He taught at Lewis and Clark College, Manchester College, and San Jose State College (now University). He also served as U.S. Information Agency lecturer in Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, and held Oregon’s Poet Laureate position from 1975-93. Stafford was a prolific writer and authored numerous books of nonfiction and poetry as well as edited several collections of poetry and prose and contributed to translations and anthologies.

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