William Stafford came to Hallmark some years ago, one of the high points of my career. I used to have dozens of his poems photocopied to wallpaper over the crummy paneling in the tiny upstairs study of the first house I owned.
He was a Quaker, a conscientious objector in World War II, and got up every morning at 4:00 to write poems. Thousands of poems, many of them as good as this, one of my all-time favorite poems for 30 years now:
Some time when the river is ice, ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.