An Introduction to Literature

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don't understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won't believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
strangely, it relates to what works,
but it is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

- William Stafford 


  1. Thanks for posting one of my favorite poems from my favorite poet. I was looking for an online copy to send to someone. Just one thing: It's "Are you coming?"


    Two people meet. The sky turns winter,
    quells whatever they would say.
    Then, a periphery glance into danger -
    and an avalanche already on its way.

    They have been honest all of their lives;
    they didn't know what it is to (meet).
    Now they have met: the world is waste.

    They find they are riding an avalanche
    feeling at rest, all danger gone
    The present looks out of their eyes; they stand
    calm and still on a speeding stone.

    -William Stafford

    Love, Mark

    ps (meet) is in italics, I didn't know how to do that here.

    1. Thank you. I've corrected it. :-) And thank you for sharing that poem. I just discovered your favorite poet (as of posting that), and I want to read more of his work.