I've read William Stafford's work off and on throughout the years. For the past six months, I've read more of Stafford's work than ever. In the fall, I taught two of his chapbooks in an independent study and gained more appreciation for his work. His work centers me with every poem. Currently, I'm reading Stafford's The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems and each poem is a revelation to me. Take this poem, for instance:
Notes for the Program
Just the ordinary days, please.
I wouldn't want them any better.
About the pace of life, it seems best to have
slow, if-I-can-stand-them revelations.
And take this message about the inevitable:
I've decided it's all right if it comes.
One of the things I love about this poem is it straightforward quality. Yes, I love imagery and music in poetry, both of which speak to my poet brain, but Stafford's poems speak to my heart. Stafford examines life throughout his work, whether studying a landscape and learning through the forests how to live a better life, or ruminating on days lived, as this poem does. This poem reminds us to slow down. The speaker wants ordinary days, and if something unordinary comes along ("the inevitable"), it's alright. It will be dealt with.
Something else I love about this poem is its take-it-with-you quality. A poem to memorize, a poem to write on an index card and keep with me whenever I need a reminder that ordinary days outnumber the days of revelation, or days of news, good and bad. It's the days of routine and ordinary life which become memories.