Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Now I am alone, following the downwar slur"

Walking at Night
William Stafford

Now I am alone, following the downwar slur
Of blowing sleet past lights, and I remember:
The tremendous little train, quiet now with evening,
Sagging along that valley on the way home;
Those fragile Sunday mornings,
The men and women giving those days away,
Never caring what comes over the curve of the earth,
Measuring juke box life by drinks in a war boom bar,
Wearing wings from death by terror across the ocean;
Those walls sweeping together with walls in corners of knot-eyed wood;
Those persons looking at each other, their lives a richness;
And transported choirs of heroes on a buoyant sea.

Now, in a time of darkness and cold,
Those islands of fairness, piercing and staggering,
Live breathlessly like children dashing through a room;
And I have become a student of having
And not having.

From Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947

Stafford was born on this day in 1914. There's a nice long profile on him at the Poetry Foundation.

Moonlight and Frost, Alexander Helwig Wyant, c.1890

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