Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What William Stafford Says Is Credo 6

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:

Ask Me

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.

1 comment:

scotland said...

"The river breaths surrender,while the whistle-fly casts dreams."

Remebering an inscription that I tagged to a Gershwin inspired piano piece some twenty years ago.

The full range of big lush chords,moving along as if time did not exist,seemed to bear the full weight of life's gravity as easily as a leaf spinning and floating on the current.
It then flowed out on Broadway a cloud of vented steam,into a world of newspaper overcoats,hats and leather bound suitcases carryng
human dreams.
I seem to have imbibed
arch-typal dream of a warm hashish pipe laid to rest,like a bookmark on open pages of the Rubi'yat of Omar Khayam.

I also would defer to the River and most fervently in the blush of spring.
For many good reasons science overturned western understanding of an etheric ocean,yet I would challenge anyone to spend time next to the flow of any great river and say that they have not seen the ethers return to the headwaters of reality.

Time to take the bookmark in hand and imbibe the river...