Sunday, March 03, 2013

Well, it was yesterday. 28 August 1993

William Stafford seemed like such a nice man. When he came to San Jose for the new Poetry Center, we read him our poems and he listened; he read us his poems and we listened. I was trying to imagine what kind of quiet strength it had taken to be a conscientious objector in World War II, as he had been. And I was trying to imagine myself into the place of getting up every morning and picking up the pencil and
writing down what there was to be written down on that exact morning.

The Fall, 2012 issue of American Poet has printed a facsimile of the poem  (pp. 52-53) Stafford wrote on the morning of the day he died, August 24, 1993. He had already struck out some words; it seems ready to go. The magazine also published a typeset version, but added some initial capitals that are clearly not there in ihe facsimile.So I have taken those back out. . . The ones in the last shorrt stanza are clearly there.

Are you Mr.William Stafford?
"Are you Mr. William Stafford?"
"Yes, but . . . ."

Well, it was yesterday.
Sunlight used to follow my hand.
And that's when the strange siren-like sound flooded
over the horizon and rushed through the streets of our town.
That's when sunlight came from behind 
a rock and began to follow my hand.

"It's for the best." my mother said, "Nothing can 
ever be wrong for anyone truly good."
So later the sun settled back and the sound
faded and was gone. All along the streets every
house waited, white, blue, gray; trees
were still trying to arch as far as they could.

You can't tell when strange things with meaning
will happen. I'm [still] here writing it down
just the way it was. "You don't have to
prove anything," my mother said. "Just be ready
for what God sends."  I listened and put my hand
out in the sun again. It was all easy.

Well, it was yesterday. And the sun came,
It came.

--William Stafford    (1914-1993)

Well you  can't tell when strange things with meaning will happen. Tonight, for instance, I suddenly was in a quarrel with Blogger which wanted me to sign in when I had the post almost completely done, except for the poem's last stanza. I wound up losing the whole thing. One of the reasons I like to post poems in this blog is that, typing them, I have to pay deeper attention to linebreaks, stanza breaks, initial capitals, brackets! and other such matters. It's very useful and often very interesting. Good Night! May all your posts and emails only need to be written the first time!
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