Review by S. M. Page
William Stafford’s Even in Quiet Places is outstanding poetry. Stafford is one of the greats who controls form and line using lyrical conversational meter. The book is divided into four sections. The first three were published as chapbooks and the last a garnering of poems Stafford wrote as a project for U.S. Forest Service (several being put on signs and posted along wilderness trails in the Cascade Mountains—that alone is a monumental achievement). I read the book four times, three as it is ordered by editor and son Kim Stafford, and once in the chronological order the sections were originally written. I like my last reading best, as it gives me better sense of Stafford’s final years in regards to his style, theoretical, and spiritual growth. His poems topic nature, environmental destruction, and human to human apathy; even more so, how short human life and consciousness are compared to the Earth’s:
This From Lookout Point
The cast here, in order of disappearance, were
dinosaurs, saber tooths, many birds, pioneers,
Shoshones, Wolverines, Wolves, Grizzlies,
For some reason they don’t come around much anymore.
Also certain people have gone away—saints,
explorers. They didn’t want to disturb the air.
All those tracks in river and sand—gone.
And their fires, the charcoal—all washed away.
So sometimes I choose a cloud and let it
cross the sky floating me off there too.
Or a bird unravels its song and carries me
as it flies deeper and deeper into the woods.
Such times, laments are not necessary. You could
wait here all winter and the mountains would
just stand there. They wouldn’t say anything. Why
should they care? Someday everything will be goon.
Hey, let’s hurry down and forget this.
It gets cold here.
You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Even-Quiet-Places-William-Stafford/dp/1881090167/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433777914&sr=1-9
– S. M. Page is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize for Poetry. He loves to teach, spend time with his family, and wander through the woods communing with nature.