Friday, November 10, 2017

Listening to the River

I love living near a river, with all it has to teach me, and this poem is a perfect example of why William Stafford is one of my favorite poets.

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.

~ William Stafford

The photograph is mine.


  1. Thought provoking poem and lovely picture.
    Hope you're staying warm! ;)

    1. It's been so cold for November, but a slight warming starts today. I'm looking forward to it. :)

  2. I love following rivers, I think of them as connectors of different parts of the countryside. Specially the Thames, my favourite river.

    1. In many ways, a river can shape our lives. My little river is a tributary of the Mississippi. I can certainly understand how the Thames would do so.

  3. I've not read much Stafford, so nearly every poem is new. This one's lovely. I can see why it would be one of your favorites.

    1. There's a quality to his writing that tells me where his heart is. His writing feels so good to me.

  4. Thank you for the lovely picture and poem. :-)

  5. Over 30 years ago, I would devote an evening half-hour or so to carrying my little daughter back and forth in the kitchen --the heart of the house-- and sing "Ole Man River" to her as I held her to my heart. And she would conk out. Recently she wrote that she attended a performance of a noted baritone in her home-city of Chicago and was enthralled, then surprised that when he launched into "Ole Man River" she felt unaccountably sleepy. I recommend Paul Robison's version --it's on Youtube.

    1. What a wonderful story. That is a great song to instill in a little one's life. And Paul Robeson's version is perfect, with all the depth the river carries. Thank you so much for sharing that.