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The Darkness Around Us is Deep: Selected Poems

4.41 of 5 stars 4.41  ·  rating details  ·  302 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Bestselling author Robert Bly selects his favorite works by the award-winning poet William Stafford.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Harper Perennial (first published February 1st 1993)
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Jul 30, 2008 Bob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
A selection of poems by William Stafford, edited and with an introduction by Robert Bly.

The poems are worth reading, but I mostly remember this book for an anecdote that Bly relates about Stafford:

William Stafford looks mild, but actually he is quite fierce. I heard a story about a week he spent as teacher at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. The staff emphasized "finding your voice," which turned out to be a study of what the poetry establishment wanted at the moment. Every teacher gave one c
"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."

Wonderful, gutsy, spiritual stuff. I've learned so much from Stafford.
The collection gives an incredible amount of introspection and thought. The poems range from portraits of his family to meditations on the human condition. He is a poet who brings the reader in because of his stark honesty. The collection, compiled by Robert Bly, displays a great tapestry of Stafford’s work.
I love poetry, but I hate most poetry. Stafford's is the exception. There's not much to say other than read it and be edified. It doesn't get any better than "A Ritual to Be Read to Each Other."
Not my favorite selected poems; there are some classic Stafford pieces conspicuously absent from this book.
One of his classics. The title poem especially moving. That line gets me all the time.
Sep 26, 2014 Ron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
This is a fine collection of poems, selected from a lifetime of writing and published in the year of the poet’s death. Stafford reminds a reader of Robert Frost, in the simplicity of his language and its conversational tone, while he expresses deeply felt matters of the human experience.

The collection is divided into six sections, some related to his family, his upbringing in Kansas, and his Native American roots. A conscientious objector during WWII, he devotes the final section to that episode
This was my introduction to Stafford, thanks to Benjamin Myers. (Yes... I know... I should have read him before now. But I am a literary sloth and only read poetry every day.)

This book came on slowly for me. Bly's introduction had some very good moments, which is a lot for me to say when it comes to Bly. Then, Parts 1 and 2 had several poems I enjoyed considerably. Part 3, "Speaking the Native American Part in Him," lost me, I'm afraid. Except for the poem, "Indian Caves in the Dry Country." I L
Shawn Sorensen
...Stafford standing tall in the quiet that reveals, in the shadows that illuminate. This is a poet that works harder to say more with less, but also to get more complex messages out of simpler words. If we could ever consistently calm down, we would get to the answer, however painful, and move upward... that's the main message this reader received. Parts of "Archival Print":

God snaps your picture - don't look away -
this room right now, your face tilted
exactly as it is before you can think
or co
Tom Romig
September 11 is an appropriate day to finish reading this fine poet. A conscientious objector in World War II, Stafford understood the tragedy of unbridled aggression. The violence of 9/11 ironically and sadly unleashed continuing violence throughout the Middle East. Stafford's poems on his youth and family--parents and siblings--reveal almost painful honesty and compassion.
Sep 04, 2014 Hope rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
These poems are indeed masterful. So why only the two stars? Simply because of the subject matter. These poems, as exceptional as they are, are too heavy for me at this time.
About 3.5 stars from me. I expected to like this more. There were quite a few poems I liked a lot, though. And I love the gentle, meditative grace of it. Reminds me of my father. A similar sensibility, the musing, and quiet wonder at the world.

Most memorable line: "It is important that awake people be awake."

Also, much appreciated:


Animals full of light
walk through the forest
toward someone aiming a gun
loaded with darkness.

That's the world: God
holding still
letting it happen again,
and ag
Stafford is so right on.... I particularly love "an Oregon message"....
burn this!
Christian Clarke
I came to this collection through the anthologized poem "Traveling in the Dark". Reading through it while sitting on the floor next to my lady, beneath the biography section of my favorite shitty little bookstore on a fairly miserable saturday night made me feel something close to "fragile." It made me feel that being a "man," is just, well, like "traveling in the dark."
Stafford is a master poet, but his voice is so quiet as to be deceptive. He's like Frost: sharp, insightful, direct but with a plain speech way of writing, and he cares more about the human race, where we're all going and what matters for everyone, than any other poet I've ever read. If I could read one book of poetry the rest of my life, this may be it.
Christina "6 word reviewer" Lake
Deceptively simple. Cuts to the core.
Nice intro to Stafford's work includes nice essay by Robert Bly. Bly selected the poems for the volumes and probably is the one who divided the poems into five sections and who gave each section a name.
A 2.5, really. And I really didn't care for Bly's introduction. I'll have to try some of Stafford's that are his own collection.
American Indian Proverb

– Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.
A powerful and accessible poet. My husband's favorite poet -- i think we have all of his writing!
A fine collection of Stafford poems. I will read them often.
First poetry reading I ever attende with my husband.
One of my top 3 favorite American poets.
contains my favorite poem, "assurance."
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William Edgar Stafford was an American poet and pacifist, and the father of poet and essayist Kim Stafford. He and his writings are sometimes identified with the Pacific Northwest.

More about William Edgar Stafford...
The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems Even in Quiet Places You Must Revise Your Life Traveling Through The Dark Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War

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