SOMEDAY, MAYBE by William Stafford


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Stafford's poems have settled, like compost, down to their organic elements, organic in both senses. A few images suffice -- earth, or world, cave, miles, leaves, sun -- all unqualified, germinal nouns that entail their own sensory atmospheres and point irreversibly to the largest things. There are only two directions taken, out and back, over a vast continuum that telescopes time into space -- e.g., a mushroom (""old ear"") tunnels out from the cave where aboriginal hands begin to know the world by touch. This is a favorite image, and a good instance of Stafford's singular, sweeping strokes. The other thing to mention is that he sweeps clean to leave the poems room to expand, and between every line he implies that this is the way the world stretches in relief when the people go, so many bedded children in the eternity he reckons. The obvious, forceful affinities should make strong work of poems derived from the Sioux, and for the most part they do, though the assumed voice does not always ring perfectly true (occasionally sounding like a tape of Don Juan the Yaqui). But there are other stronger poems which bring that same idiom of recognition and expanded scale to his own experience, even urban experience, and these have a powerfully integral tenderness and authority.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1973
Publisher: Harper & Row