Odds are that the single most common adjective used over the years to describe William Stafford's poetry has been ""quiet.""...

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Odds are that the single most common adjective used over the years to describe William Stafford's poetry has been ""quiet."" From the early books, with their steady-handed tone and careful recording of the poet's young memories of the Middle and Far West, there became apparent a directness that traded more upon the eloquence of the past than the writer's inventions of language. ""Our duty is just a certain kind of waiting""--and under that charge Stafford can see, for instance, that ""The little towns day found/flowing down streets held still."" ""The Move to California,"" ""Sunset: Southwest,"" ""Late at Night,"" and ""Reaching out to Turn on a Light"" are all particularly fine works, built primarily upon Stafford's extremely temperate and unhysterical use of ""I."" But 320 pages of modulation, no matter how dear, gets just a little bland. Stafford's new poems, heading this volume, seem almost like a warning of this tendency to texturelessness. ""I am the wind. Long ago/high in the mountains I had a home."" We know Stafford to be a sophisticated poet, a man of complex feeling--but the simplicity and Aristotelian golden-meanness threatens these small works with banality. It's a bit alarming. Perhaps it's meant to be. Yet Stafford's resource is here mined from a very shallow vein and the haul isn't very great or satisfying.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 1977

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1977