Bi-Focal

By William E. Stafford 1914–1993
Sometimes up out of this land   
a legend begins to move.
Is it a coming near
of something under love?

Love is of the earth only,   
the surface, a map of roads   
leading wherever go miles   
or little bushes nod.

Not so the legend under,   
fixed, inexorable,
deep as the darkest mine   
the thick rocks won't tell.

As fire burns the leaf
and out of the green appears   
the vein in the center line
and the legend veins under there,

So, the world happens twice—
once what we see it as;
second it legends itself
deep, the way it is.

William Stafford, “Bi-Focal” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1998)

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Poet William E. Stafford 1914–1993

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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 William E. Stafford

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"If you have been wondering where the articulate, readable poems have gone in the last third of the 20th century, you might start with [William] Stafford," declares Victor Howes of the Christian Science Monitor. A pacifist and one of "the quiet of the land," as he often describes himself, Stafford is known for his unique method of composition, his soft-spoken voice, and his independence from social and literary expectations. As

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POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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