Peace Walk

By William E. Stafford 1914–1993
We wondered what our walk should mean,
taking that un-march quietly;
the sun stared at our signs— “Thou shalt not kill.”

Men by a tavern said, “Those foreigners . . .”
to a woman with a fur, who turned away—
like an elevator going down, their look at us.

Along a curb, their signs lined across,
a picket line stopped and stared
the whole width of the street, at ours: “Unfair.”

Above our heads the sound truck blared—
by the park, under the autumn trees—
it said that love could fill the atmosphere:

Occur, slow the other fallout, unseen,
on islands everywhere—fallout, falling
unheard. We held our poster up to shade our eyes.

At the end we just walked away;
no one was there to tell us where to leave the signs.

William Stafford, “Peace Walk” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by William Stafford. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.  www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1994)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet William E. Stafford 1914–1993

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Activities, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 William E. Stafford

Biography

"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

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.