William E. Stafford


William Stafford (1914-1993) was one of the most prolific and important American poets of the last half of the twentieth century. Among his many credentials, Stafford served as consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress, and received the National Book Award for his poetry collection Traveling through the Dark (1963). During his lifetime, Stafford wrote over sixty books of poetry that still resonate with both scholars and general readers. Stafford's perspectives on peace, the environment, and education serve as some of the most articulate and engaging dialogues by a modern American writer about three of the most important issues of the second half of the twentieth century with lasting impacts on future generations. Howard Zinn, one America's most iconic modern historians, was keenly aware of Stafford's insight into modern American culture. Zinn claimed, "William Stafford's prose and poetry, wise and eloquent, speak directly to the violence of our time, and to our hope for a different world" (from cover of Every War Has Two Losers). Source

Walking West

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.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Memory & The Past


Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Sensory Detail

words used to invoke the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell)