Ask Me, by William Stafford

24 November 2014

Doing my ironing this evening I listened to a BBC Radio 4 documentary on William Stafford, a poet I had never previously heard of. He wrote a poem every day for over 50 years – over 20,000 in total. That’s a resolution that far outstrips the one at the genesis of this blog, to read a poem every day – which while keeping up much longer than its original year, is now also long lapsed.

This is one of his poems, featured in the documentary.


Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

[Ripped from]


William Kherbek published a collection this autumn entirely on YouTube, called Ephemera. This is one of the 45 poems: