The Biggest Thing There Is

moon,photography,sky,blue,winter,Nebraska

INTERVIEWER:

There’s a sense of great space in your poems. Would you trace that to growing up in Kansas?

STAFFORD:

I sometimes have thought about that, yes. In our world at least half of the world was sky; that is the way I’ve sometimes phrased it to myself. I mean, there’s the land, but it isn’t as big as the sky. Someone told me a wonderful story about a woman who came out from Nebraska and wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. The motel person said, Yes, you can see it if you walk down to the end of the road. This visitor stood there a few moments on the beach, and then walked back, and the motel person said, What do you think of it? And she said, Well, it’s all right, but I can’t help but think it isn’t as big as I thought it would be. This was the Pacific Ocean! Well, she was from Nebraska, I know about that. That’s the biggest thing there is—the sky! It’s there, and it’s an abiding puzzle, presence, and invitation.

—William Stafford, from “The Art of Poetry No. 67,” The Paris Review (Winter 1993, No. 129)


Credits:


Maybe. Just Maybe.

king's throne

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a King.”

- William Stafford


Credits: (1) Quote-Thank you Whiskey River. (2) King’s Throne Chair Image

Related William Stafford Posts:

You Reading This, Be Ready

woman, face, portrait, eyes

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

- William Stafford  (The Way It Is)


Sources: Poem – Thank you WhiskeyRiver.  Photograph: Rangefinder

Lean Closer…

When It Comes

Any time. Now. The next minute.
Years from today. You lean forward
and wait. You relax, but you don’t forget.

Someone plans an elaborate party
with a banquet, dancing, even fireworks
when feasting is over. You look at them:

All those years when you searched the world
like a ferret, these never happened – your marriage,
your family, prayers, curses. Only dreams.

A vacuum has opened everywhere. Cities,
armies, those chairs ranked in the great
hall for the audience – there isn’t anyone.

Like a shutter the sky opens and closes
and the show is over. The next act
will deny that anything ever happened.

Your hand falls open. It is empty. It never
held a knife, a flower, gold,
or love, or now. Lean closer –

Listen to me: there isn’t any hand.

- William Stafford

 

 

 


Thank you Whiskey River for sharing William Stafford poetry: The Answers Are Inside the Mountains

Thank you Anake Goodall for sharing Artist: Tanha, Iran

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