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)
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.
More By This Poet
Traveling through the Dark
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled...
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Of Tribulation, these are They,
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— Emily Dickinson
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every surface —
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in the doorways
sleepers from the womb
to make of anything succulent