from the vault: william stafford

Posted on Wed, Aug 28, 2019

december Vol. 7 — 1965

Stafford Vault-02


Suddenly it was Mexico that afternoon,
everything far, old, thorny, and brown.
On the hill we were climbing, a swarthy wind
brought bells from a hidden village, complaints
of lost goats, miles of rasping chaparral.

That one of us we all secretly recognize
as wilder than any land we will ever find
found arrowheads, pottery, thorns in a meaningful
tangle. Even he said, “Mexico goes on and on.
I can’t hear where it stops at the ocean.”

I watched that son quest the horizon, let the
world have the full range of his eyes — that one
we all recognize as wilder than any land.
For him there would always be hidden places
and Mexico, at the end a last hill saying “And…”


William Stafford (1914 –1993) was an iconic American poet. He won the Nathional Book Award for his poetry collection Traveling through the Dark (1963). He was appointed the United States Poet Laureate in 1970. Stafford wrote over sixty books of poetry and his poems were featured in the pages of december in Vols. 3.2 (1961), 4 (1963), 7 (1965), and 8 (1966).