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WILLIAM STAFFORD is one of America's most noted poets and has received many prizes for his work, including the National Book Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Award, and the Shelley Memorial Award. A native of Kansas, he now makes his home in Oregon. Writing about Stafford, poet Donald Hall has said Stafford's poems show forth goodness and compassion. These qualities together with affection and shrewd reticence make him unusual in the great zoo of contemporary American poetry. ... Much poetry will - must -represent cruelty, pain, torture, lust, madness, egotism, and selfishness. But there is an unexamined and neurotic notion that only these qualities equal seriousness; Stafford gives lie to this currency." Reminders Before dawn, across the whole road as I pass I feel spiderwebs.

Within people's voices, under their words or woven into the pauses, I hear a hidden sound.

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One thin green light flashes over a smooth sea just as the sun goes down.

What roses lie on the altar of evening I inhale carefully, to keep more of.

Tasting all these and letting them have their ways to waken me, I shiver and resolve:

In my life, I will more than live.

Gaea Often, while the barn braces itself to hear the wind, I stand quietly all alone and read the hay. Our earth, the whole of it, is alive, they say, like a plant or animal, each part in touch and reaching so that the whole survives. In such a life, in even a selfish act, you contribute, and the world says, "Thanks, goodbye."

Or, sometimes, not to know, but to spend the time learning, I make the guitar say a certain tone again and again till it all adds up and becomes what God intended from my part of the world today. Then I pause, and what follows that sound I make is music.

Such times, I almost know what the world keeps telling me. It's the birds and a certain other hum just beyond. It's the sound the sun makes when it finds gold. Everyone, stop whatever you're doing; listen.

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