Famous Quotes & Sayings

William Stafford Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by William Stafford.

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William Stafford Quotes 78609

When the snake decided to go straight, he didn't get anywhere. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1396146

Assurance:
You will never be alone, you hear so deep a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums, or in the silence after lightning before it says its names-and then the clouds' wide-mouthed apologies. You were aimed from birth: you will never be alone. Rain will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon, long aisles-you never heard so deep a sound, moss on rock, and years. You turn your head- that's what the silence meant: you're not alone. The whole wide world pours down. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 523614

It's love,' they say. You touch the right one and a whole half of the universe wakes up, a new half. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1810942

Why I Am Happy
Now has come, an easy time. I let it
roll. There is a lake somewhere
so blue and far nobody owns it.
A wind comes by and a willow listens
gracefully.
I hear all this, every summer. I laugh
and cry for every turn of the world,
its terribly cold, innocent spin.
That lake stays blue and free; it goes
on and on.
And I know where it is. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2076817

Even the upper end of the river believes in the ocean. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2263209

I have a feeling that art is something you do for yourself, and that any time you turn your decisions over to someone else you're postponing at best, your own development. The atmosphere of the workshop should be that of trying out one's own work and accepting the signals from others but not accepting the dictation of others because that is a violation of the spirit of art. Art can't be done by somebody else, it has got to be done by the artist. — William Stafford

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People wander about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 766438

You can lie at a banquet but you have to be honest in the kitchen. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 764388

Once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall, a season changes and we come back changed but safe, quiet, grateful. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 515708

Anyone who breathes is in the rhythm business. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2259037

I don't see writing as a communication of something already discovered, as "truths" already known. Rather, I see writing as a job of experiment. It's like any discovery job; you don't know what's going to happen until you try it. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1570542

Today"

The ordinary miracles begin. Somewhere
a signal arrives: "Now," and the rays
come down. A tomorrow has come. Open
your hands, lift them: morning rings
all the doorbells; porches are cells for prayer.
Religion has touched your throat. Not the same now,
you could close your eyes and go on full of light.

And it is already begun, the chord
that will shiver glass, the song full of time
bending above us. Outside, a sign:
a bird intervenes; the wings tell the air,
"Be warm." No one is out there, but a giant
has passed through town, widening streets, touching
the ground, shouldering away the stars. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1296191

One way to find your place is like the rain, a million requests for lodging, one that wins, finds your cheek: you find your home. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 351698

It is this impulse to change the quality of experience that I recognize as central to creation ... Out of all that could be done, you choose one thing. What that one thing is, nothing else can tell you
you come at it over unmarked snow. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1163277

Security of character would be like a compass, you know? Other people may say that this way is north, or this way might be north. But the compass just says
north. That's what we count on. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2240775

Saint Matthew and All

Lorene - we thought she'd come home. But
it got late, and then days. Now
it has been years. Why shouldn't she,
if she wanted? I would: something comes
along, a sunny day, you start walking;
you meet a person who says, "Follow me,"
and things lead on.

Usually, it wouldn't happen, but sometimes
the neighbors notice your car is gone, the
patch of oil in the driveway, and it fades.
They forget.

In the Bible it happened - fishermen, Levites.
They just went away and kept going. Thomas,
away off in India, never came back.

But Lorene- it was a stranger maybe, and he
said, "Your life, I need it." And nobody else did. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 706839

Storm Warning
Something not the wind shakes along far
like a sky truck in low gear
over Oregon. Like the shore wind baying along through fir
but not now the wind, no, not really so,
it is a new weight and force
that begins to blow.
This winter they'll still call it wind and let it explore;
and when they talk it over next summer there by the shore,
along through the scrub and salal the new something will range.
In a hurry, late, it won't wait for the air.
In the fall again they'll remember, each of them, back to now.
They'll no longer call it wind, they'll want it all changed.
They'll want it all different then, but they won't know how. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1392926

Readers should not be loaded with more information and guidance than a lively mind needs
puzzlement can be accepted, but insulting clarity is fatal to a poem. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1114254

Some people are blinded by their experience. Soldiers know how important war is. Owners of slaves learn every day how inferior subject peoples are. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 718784

Those times you caught them out and showed them up
they learned how stupid they are. But now you'll never hear the little song of their purring throats, and you'll never know what they think, when you say hello. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1523975

Protest poetry
could there be consensus poetry? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1511531

A writer is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things. — William Stafford

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When a goat likes a book, the whole book is gone,
and the meaning has to go find an author again.
- The Trouble With Reading — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1178184

I heard a bird congratulating itself
all day for being a jay.
Nobody cared. But it was glad
all over again, and said so, again. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1081178

The root and the flower have to trust each other. If the root does not trust, the plant won't blossom. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2236143

I am your own way of looking at things," she said. "When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 76228

Most mornings I get away, slip out the door before light, set forth on the dim, gray road, letting my feet find a cadence that softly carries me on. Nobody is up - all alone my journey begins. Some — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 100940

Save the world by torturing one innocent child? Which innocent child? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 107395

Evening came, a paw, to the gray hut by the river. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 120118

Glances
Two people meet. The sky turns winter,
quells whatever they would say.
Then, a periphery glance into danger -
and an avalanche already on its way.
They have been honest all their lives;
careful, calm, never in haste;
they didn't know what it is to meet.
Now they have met: the world is waste.
They find they are riding an avalanche
feeling at rest, all danger gone.
The present looks out of their eyes; they stand
calm and still on a speeding stone. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 135535

It is as if the ordinary language we use every day has a hidden set of signals, a kind of secret code. — William Stafford

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Once you decide to do right, life is easy, there are no distractions. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 189727

I'll be Pavlov, you be the dog. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 221896

All events and experiences are local, somewhere. And all human enhancements of events and experiences
all the arts
are regional in the sense that they derive from immediate relation to felt life.
It is this immediacy that distinguishes art. And paradoxically the more local the feeling in art, the more all people can share it; for that vivid encounter with the stuff of the world is our common ground.
Artists, knowing this mutual enrichment that extends everywhere, can act, and praise, and criticize, as insiders
the means of art is the life of all people. And that life grows and improves by being shared. Hence, it is good to welcome any region you live in or come to, or think of, for that is where life happens to be, right where you are. — William Stafford

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Poverty plus confidence equals
pioneers. We never doubted. — William Stafford

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A poem is a serious joke, a truth that has learned jujitsu. — William Stafford

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There are so many things admirable people do not understand. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 298906

You are a memory
too strong to leave this world ... — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 304003

Father and son

No sound - a spell- on, on out
where the wind went, our kite sent back
its thrill along the string that
sagged but sang and said, "I'm here!
I'm here!" - till broke somewhere,
gone years ago, but sailed forever clear
of earth. I hold-whatever tugs
the other end-I hold that string. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 347184

You don't need many words if you already know what you're talking about. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 355414

Ask Me
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 400494

Afterwards
Mostly you look back and say, "Well, OK. Things might have been different, sure, and it's not too bad, but look - things happen like that, and you did what you could."
You go back and pick up the pieces. There's tomorrow. There's that long bend in the river on the way home. Fluffy bursts of milkweed are floating through shafts of sunlight or disappearing where trees reach out from their deep dark roots.
Maybe people have to go in and out of shadows till they learn that floating, that immensity waiting to receive whatever arrives with trust. Maybe somebody has to explore what happens when one of us wanders over near the edge and falls for awhile. Maybe it was your turn. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 439160

The earth says have a place, be what that place
requires; hear the sound the birds imply
and see as deep as ridges go behind
each other. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 442955

Waiting for God"


This morning I breathed in. It had rained
early and the sycamore leaves tapped
a few drops that remained, while waving
the air's memory back and forth
over the lawn and into our open
window. Then I breathed out.

This deliberate day eased
past the calendar and waited. Patiently
the sun instructed the shadows how to move;
it held them, guided their gradual defining.
In the great quiet I carried my life on,
in again, out again. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 458508

Between roars the lion purrs. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 481846

The more you let yourself be distracted from where you are going, the more you are the person that you are. It's not so much like getting lost as it is like getting found. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 502499

Yes
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That's why we wake
and look out - no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 503052

All still when summer is over stand shocks in the field, nothing left to whisper, not even good-bye, to the wind. After summer was over we knew winter would come: we knew silence would wait, tall, patient calm. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 504953

An Afternoon in the Stacks
Closing the book, I find I have left my head
inside. It is dark in here, but the chapters open
their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,
words adjusting themselves to their meaning.
Long passages open at successive pages. An echo,
continuous from the title onward, hums
behind me. From in here the world looms,
a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
carved out when an author traveled and a reader
kept the way open. When this book ends
I will pull it inside-out like a sock
and throw it back in the library. But the rumor
of it will haunt all that follows in my life.
A candleflame in Tibet leans when I move. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 510747

A student brings something to discuss, saying, "I don't know whether this is really good, or whether I should throw it in the wastebasket." The assumption is that one or the other choice is the right move. No. Almost everything we say or think or do - or write - comes in that spacious human area bounded by something this side of the sublime and something above the unforgivable. — William Stafford

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I would exchange all that I have written for the next thing. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 659357

A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 661437

What you fear will not go away; it will take you into yourself and bless you and keep you. That's the world, and we all live there. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 671348

On a sandbar
sunlight stretches out its limbs, or is it
a sycamore, so brazen, so clean and bold? — William Stafford

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We think it is calm here, or that our storm is the right size. — William Stafford

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Politicians need citizens who will permit them to behave reasonably. — William Stafford

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They say that history is going on somewhere.
They say it won't stop. I have held
One picture still for a long time and waited. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 756875

Please think about this as you go on. Breathe on the world. Hold out your hands to it. When morning and evenings roll along, watch how they open and close, how they invite you to the long party that your life is. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 765515

Living on the Plains"

That winter when this thought came-how the river
held still every midnight and flowed
backward a minute-we studied algebra
late in our room fixed up in the barn,
and I would feel the curved relation,
the rafters upside down, and the cows in their life
holding the earth round and ready
to meet itself again when morning came.

At breakfast while my mother stirred the cereal
she said, "You're studying too hard,"
and I would include her face and hands in my glance
and then look past my father's gaze as
he told again our great race through the stars
and how the world can't keep up with our dreams. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 770836

Wisdom is having things right in your life
and knowing why. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 794838

Literature is not a picture of life, but is a separate experience with its own kind of flow and enhancement. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 811212

Reluctant hero, drafted again each Fourth
of July, I'll bow and remember you. Who
shall we follow next? Who shall we kill
next time? — William Stafford

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They miss the whisper that runs any day in your mind, "Who are you really, wanderer?"
and the answer you have to give no matter how dark and cold the world around you is: "Maybe I'm a king. — William Stafford

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The greatest ownership of all is to glance around and understand. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 912835

If it should happen you wake up and Armageddon has come, lie still. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1085700

Children of heroes have glory for breakfast. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1089766

So, the world happens twice
once what we see it as;
second it legends itself
deep, the way it is. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1107395

Writing itself is one of the great, free human activities. There is scope for individuality, and elation, and discovery. In writing, for the person who follows with trust and forgiveness what occurs to him, the world remains always ready and deep, an inexhaustible environment, with the combined vividness of an actuality and flexibility of a dream. Working back and forth between experience and thought, writers have more than space and time can offer. They have the whole unexplored realm of human vision. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1115082

In every town we lived in, there was one great big door ready to open for anyone - the library. And I never met a library I didn't like. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1148349

Those who champion democracy, but make a fetish of never accepting anything they don't agree with
what advantage do they see in democracy? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1183255

Next time what I'd do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I'd know more -- the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1216265

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1255046

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music — William Stafford

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You shouldn't have standards that inhibit you from writing It really doesn't make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you've done it. — William Stafford

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Can injustice one way be corrected without the interim reaction that tries to impose injustice the other way? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1362599

The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

~ William Stafford ~ — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1407359

There is no such thing as writer's block for writers whose standards are low enough. — William Stafford

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If you purify the pond, the lilies die — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1597197

The things you do not have to say make you rich. Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk. Hearing the things you do not have to hear dulls your hearing. And the things you know before you hear them; these are you and the reason you are in the world. — William Stafford

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There may be losses too great to understand
That rove after you and
faint and terrible
rip unknown through your hand. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1770813

'Be alive,' the land says, 'listen - this is your time, your world, your pleasure.' — William Stafford

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The wars we haven't had saved many lives. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1780102

A student comes to me with a piece of writing, holds it out, says, 'Is this good?' A whole sequence of emergencies goes off in my mind. That's not a question to ask anyone but yourself. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1782511

Others may be able to accept standards from another, but an artist is a person who decides. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1784140

Language can do what it can't say. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1812598

I embrace emerging experience.
I participate in discovery.
I am a butterfly.
I am not a butterfly collector.
I want the experience of the butterfly. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1852553

You can treat experience as a set of surprises on which to exercise your quirky self. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1881996

Keep a journal, and don't assume that your work has to accomplish anything worthy: artists and peace-workers are in it for the long haul, and not to be judged by immediate results. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1900264

My question is "when did other people give up the idea of being a poet?" You know, when we are kids we make up things, we write, and for me the puzzle is not that some people are still writing, the real question is why did the other people stop? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1952299

If you can say it, it begins to exist. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1975973

An owl sound wandered along the road with me.
I didn't hear it
I breathed it into my ears. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1982971

I'll be me, but I don't like it. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1986229

A speech is something you say so as to distract attention from what you do not say. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1989623

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 1990687

Remarks on My Character
Waving a flag I retreat a long way beyond
any denial, all the way over the scorched earth,
and come into an arching grove of evasions,
onto those easy paths, one leading to another
and covered ever deeper with shade: I'll never
dare the sun again, that I can promise.
It is time to practice the shrug: "Don't count on
me." Or practice the question that drags its broken
wing over the ground and leads into the swamp
where vines trip anyone in a hurry, and a final
dark pool waits for you to stare at yourself
while shadows move closer over your shoulder.
That's my natural place; I can live where the blurred
faces peer back at me. I like the way
they blend, and no one is ever sure itself
or likely to settle in unless you scare off
the others. Afraid but so deep no one can follow,
I steal away there, holding my arms like a tree. — William Stafford

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I have woven a parachute out of everything broken. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2054685

I keep following this sort of hidden river of my life, you know, whatever the topic or impulse which comes, I follow it along trustingly. And I don't have any sense of its coming to a kind of crescendo, or of its petering out either. It is just going steadily along. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2062598

This dream the world is having about itself
includes a trace on the plains of the Oregon trail,
a groove in the grass my father showed us all
one day while meadowlarks were trying to tell
something better about to happen. — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2246957

Everyone is born a poet - a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is: Why did other people stop? — William Stafford

William Stafford Quotes 2256611

The ocean and I have many pebbles To find and wash off and roll into shape. — William Stafford