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A Morning.

By William Stafford.

From high tide in the night a dead
sea lion explains itself on the wide beach –
folded back arms, drooping petals of feet,
one loud little rifle hole back of the mild
sleeping head. The world tilts back;
the sea returns. When stars pull their wires
tonight those dead eyes will move, and waves
make the deep song. Dunes will come
whispering back. Feathery grass will try
its long dim roots, a new version.

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From The Little Magazine (London), April, 1972.


William Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1914, received a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and, in 1954, a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He taught for many years at Lewis and Clark College. Stafford was a Guggenheim Fellow and, in 1970, the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (the American Poet Laureate). He died in 1993. An extensive archive of his work, maintained by Paul Merchant at Lewis and Clark College, is here. A recent collection, The Darkness Around Us is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford, is introduced by Robert Bly.

This work, © 1972 William Stafford and reprinted with the permission of the Estate of William Stafford, is one of a series of excerpts from literary and art journals not otherwise available online. “A Morning” was published for the first time simultaneously in The Charles Street Review (Baltimore) and in The Little Magazine (London) in 1972. It is otherwise uncollected. The Little Magazine, edited by Denis Boyles, published work by Ann Lauterbach, Anthony Howell, William Stafford, Robert Coover, Marilyn Hacker, Myra Sklarew, Stephen Wiest, Michelene Victor (Wandor), Bernard Saint, Lawrence Wayne Markert and many others. Selected works are being republished at irregular intervals in The Fortnightly Review’s New Series.

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