A Ritual to Read to Each Other, by William Stafford

As it is summer, and many of us are still finding time for relaxation – in the sun at last perhaps – we thought we would post another poem, this time by William Stafford, again read by David J Beauman. It is a terrific piece, called ‘A Ritual to Read to Each Other‘ and on reading it you may find it hard to fathom the meaning at first. Perhaps the only meaning is the one it has for you anyway.

However, when it comes to working at relationships – and couples counselling is something we believe we excel at here at The Terrace – those last two lines seem particularly apposite:

the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep

Is it about knowing ourselves, and then we can better know others? Or perhaps it is about making sure you should be clear in your messages to others, to ensure you get to know the real other, and they know the real you….?

What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts!

David J. Bauman

Poems for Stuart, Part 3

stuart and davidI mentioned in the previous two parts of this series that my dear friend Stuart came to America this summer to visit with his son. What a blessing to me that on the way to Andrew Lloyd Wight’s “Falling Water,” they took the time to divert slightly north and meet me at a restaurant in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. There we had a lovely time over food and drink in an outdoor cafe on the sidewalk. It wasn’t part of the original plan to meet at a restaurant where I once worked, but such are the serendipities of life.

After dinner, we went to the river to fulfill a small side-goal of the visit. Stu had asked if during our time together this day, he could record me reading a poem that was meaningful to this period of my life, and so I came “prepared.” As it’s…

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3 comments on “A Ritual to Read to Each Other, by William Stafford

  1. First of all, thank you for sharing my recording of this poem. It means a lot to me to know that others find these poems helpful as well. This is honestly one of my favorite poems ever. I have a hard time choosing a number 1, but this has got to be in the top ten, maybe five.

    I think it would be fun to do a close reading of this piece. I know that some people get turned off by close readings because of teachers that either bored their students or beat them over the head with the poem. But this one is so dense and so lush and beautiful, I would enjoy digging into it with whoever wants to.

    Let’s start with the opening lines:

    “If you don’t know the kind of person I am
    and I don’t know the kind of person you are
    a pattern that others made may prevail in the world.”

    Wow, that sounds like the world we are living in, doesn’t it? Anyone want to talk about it?

    • It is a lovely piece, and William Stafford writes with so much empathy, and with such calmness about really important subjects, that, like you say, they are wonderful to ponder on. Close reading can be a mindful exercise, rather than the boring one which we, like you, might remember from school.

      At the moment it really does feel as if the ‘parade of our mutual life’ is getting lost in the dark. I am not sure how many close readers we have on this blog, but it would be wonderful to start a conversation…

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