Undoubtedly one of Oregon’s most famous poets, William Stafford is one of my favorite poets and I have selected his poem “Traveling Through the Dark” as my number one poetic influence. Stafford has a style similar to Robert Frost in that it has been described as deceptively simple. Similar to Frost, Stafford’s poems reveal a distinctive and complex vision upon closer examination.
I’ve tried to follow the example of Stafford and Frost as much as possible with my poetry. I believe my best examples of this style are my poems “The Cool Morning Air” and “Fly Away.” Stafford’s poem “Traveling Through the Dark” deals with nature, death, sadness, and making tough decisions. My favorite lines come at the end of the poem:
“I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.”
Two wonderfully simple, yet complex lines of poetry. I couldn’t have written them better myself. Just like the entire poem, these lines tell a story in and of themselves. Below, I have included a YouTube video that is an excellent rendition of “Traveling Through the Dark.”