Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (February 10, 2014)
Review by: g emil reutter
Editors, Vincent Wixon and Paul Merchant have once again explored the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College to bring us the Aphorisms of William Stafford from over fifty years of Stafford’s daily writing, four hundred aphorisms are published here from thousands Stafford wrote. Intermingled are twenty-six poems by Stafford. Stafford passed away in 1993, yet here we are in 2014 once again reading the works of William Stafford.
These cuts of language that often became poems by Stafford offer insight into the wit, humor, and strengths. These cuts are inspirational as Stafford’s finely sharpened ax has left behind.
To call some people losers is to reveal your limits in
defining categories into which people can go.
It’s a tall order, finding your way. Maybe it’s winter
and you can’t just stand around waiting for help.
Poetry is the kind of thing you to see from the
corner of your eye. You can be too well prepared for
poetry. A conscientious interest in it is worse than
no interest at all. If you analyze it away, it’s gone. It
would be like boiling a watch to find out what makes
it tick .
A speech is sometin you say so as to distract
Attention from what you do not say.
A common sin: Insufficient care in avoiding the
approval of others.
The bonus in this collection are the poems. Poems such as Consolations.
“The broken part heals even stronger than the rest,”
they say. But what takes awhile.
And, “Hurry up,” the whole world says.
They tap their feet. And it still hurts on rainy
afternoons when the same absent sun
gives no sign it will ever come back.
“What difference in a hundred years?”
the barn where Agnes hanged her child
will fall by then, and the scrawled words
erase themselves on the floor where rats’ feet
run. Boards curl up. Whole new trees
drink what the rivers bring. Things die.
“No good thing is easy.” They told us that,
while we dug our fingers into the stones
and looked beseechingly into their eyes.
They say hurt is good for you. It makes
what comes later a gift all the more
precious in your bleeding hands.
Sound of the Ax is a precious collection of Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford, a master of language we can all learn from.
-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)