Walking West

By William E. Stafford 1914–1993
Anyone with quiet pace who
walks a gray road in the West
may hear a badger underground where   
in deep flint another time is

Caught by flint and held forever,   
the quiet pace of God stopped still.   
Anyone who listens walks on   
time that dogs him single file,

To mountains that are far from people,   
the face of the land gone gray like flint.   
Badgers dig their little lives there,   
quiet-paced the land lies gaunt,

The railroad dies by a yellow depot,   
town falls away toward a muddy creek.   
Badger-gray the sod goes under
a river of wind, a hawk on a stick.

William Stafford, “Walking West” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1960 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

Subjects Time & Brevity, Nature, History & Politics, Religion, Animals, Living, Social Commentaries

 William E. Stafford


"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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Nature, History & Politics, Religion, Animals, Living, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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