Monday, December 29, 2014

William Stafford: "Being a Person"

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone's dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn't be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.

"Being a Person" by William Stafford. Text as published in Even in Quiet Places: Poems (Confluence Press, 2010).

Art credit: Untitled photograph from a series called "Alternative Perspectives 1" by Randy Scott Slavin. His spherical panoramic images of cityscapes and landscapes are created by stitching together hundreds of photographs.


  1. A deceptively profound poem. I discovered it in a doctor's waiting room. The advice to "Be a person here" was invaluable. Stafford was a well of subtle wisdom.

  2. Wonderful choice of illustration! That's one of the elements of this site I appreciate: curation of both words and images.


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