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.

18 comments:

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

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

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

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    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.

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  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.

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

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

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  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.

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    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.

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  6. These words resonate so much with me. Thanks for sharing this.

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  7. Water knows everything. It flows away, consoling people. Thanks for the great poem.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your thoughtful comment.

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  8. Dear Teresa, thank you for sharing Stafford's evocative poem. As I came to its last lines, I found myself almost breathless, like the water beneath the ice.

    I've been away from blogging for some time--two years--and returned last year. But it's taken me a while to find you again. I used to live in Stillwater, MN., and followed your blog faithfully for several years. I hope you are still blogging, but if you are taking a needed break, then I hope you are being gracious to yourself and making new discoveries. Peace.

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    1. It's so good to see you again, Dee. I took a very long break, tried returning, but now I'm trying to spend less time online. I still post occasionally at my poetry blog but that has also lessened. I hope all is well with you. Thank you so much for commenting.

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  9. I love William Stafford's poetry and this poem in particular, Teresa. As you may have noticed, I've been absent from the blogging world for quite a while. I'm returning, however, with a new blog, "The Shape of Light." Looking forward to staying in touch with your blog, as well at the blogs of the other friends I made through the years with Transit Notes.

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    1. Welcome back. I've been more than a little absent myself. I'm here or over on my poetry blog only now and then, but look forward to seeing/reading your new blog.

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