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A Ritual to Read to Each Other -- William Stafford

Guest poem sent in by Chip Adams
(Poem #1580) A Ritual to Read to Each Other
 If you don't know the kind of person I am
 and I don't know the kind of person you are
 a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
 and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

 For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
 a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
 sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
 storming out to play through the broken dyke.

 And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
 but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
 I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
 to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

 And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
 a remote important region in all who talk:
 though we could fool each other, we should consider--
 lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

 For it is important that awake people be awake,
 or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
 the signals we give--yes, no, or maybe--
 should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
-- William Stafford
This a poem that pretty clearly speaks for itself, at least in its plea that
we listen very carefully to each other and take the time to be clear in what
we communicate.  I find that as a schoolteacher my biggest task is simply to
listen to my students--to listen hard and long; they need this more than
almost anything.  (One student's observation: "Our lives have been molded by
neglect.") And as a husband, a father, and a citizen, I think that the
message is crucially important.

And the rhyme scheme of the poem is cool.

- Chip Adams

[Links]

About William Stafford:
http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/s_z/stafford/about.htm
parent page: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/s_z/stafford/stafford.htm

Biography: [broken link] http://www.unl.edu/plains/events/resource/staffordbio.html

64 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Terry Starkes said...

"For it is important that awake people be awake,"

Thank you for sharing, I have printed this and will display near computer for teen children to observe, hopefully. It is so dangerously easy these days to "miss our star".

It prompts perhaps the napping world to open it's eyes before it's too late. Though I do believe, and I feel this current in the poem as well, light always always permeats darkness. Again, thanks and take care-

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