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Lighting the Darkness

William Stafford is an award winning poet who wrote in a style which may be considered as simple and almost comparable to the way that famous Robert Frost wrote. However, beneath the simple words tied together into poetry, are meanings that touch even the most complex subjects of life. His style is that of mystical yet gentle, and daydreaming and mocking (“William Stafford”). One of Stafford’s famous works is the poem “Traveling through the Dark”, which narrated the story of the author’s trip in a dark area of the road.

This simple account gradually opened and presented the struggles of both man and nature against each other’s ways of living. It explicated through poetic elements how the continuous changes in man’s life result to the harm of nature and its children. Also, it conveyed a kind of grief and guilt for the inevitability of this certain kind of existence. The Form and Structure The poem was written in free verse, which is a form mostly utilized by poets of the 19th and 20th century (Nelson n. p). It does not possess a well- defined metric pattern.

However, there is an internal rhyme scheme, evidenced by the repetition of vowel and consonant sounds within the stanzas. For instance, in the second stanza, the consistently repeating vowel sound is the long O from the words doe, and cold. While the repeated consonant sound is the sound of the letter L in the words stumbled, killing, already, and large. Although these words are not by the end of the lines, the emphases on their letters contribute to the internal rhyme scheme. Analysis If taken literally the poem will be a simple story of a man who is torn between throwing a dead dear to the river written in lines and stanzas.

However, if carefully interpreted, the entire narration is a literary device that portrayed an existing issue. The elements like the dead dear, the dark road, and the man are but symbols of the truth that man’s continuous efforts to innovate himself, affects nature negatively. “Travelling through the dark I found a deer dead on the edge of the Wilson River road. ” (Stafford) In the given stanza, there may be found the important elements that conveyed the message of the author. First is the travel. The travel may refer to any trip that the persona in the poem took in a certain part of his life (“travel”).

However, for the purposes of extending a message to an audience, this travel is a metaphor of an entire existence, an existence in the darkness. This may point to a lifestyle, which is insensitive to the call of nature that people are now currently living. The line, “traveling through the dark” may mean getting past this insensitivity and blindness and seeing the consequences of the changes that were done and still being done. The second element is the pregnant doe or a female dear (“deer”). It is the metaphor that the author used to represent the consequences of man’s actions. It is a symbol of nature that gives life.

The fawn or the baby deer (“fawn”) carries a metaphor for the potentiality or a new life that will soon flourish. However, the second and third line of the third stanza, “her fawn lay there waiting, alive, still, never to be born” (Stafford), which is an antithesis, indicates that the doe is dead and the fawn it was carrying may soon die as well. This may point how man has gradually killed nature with the endless improvements in technology as symbolized by the car in the poem. And taking of the last two lines of the poem, “I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—, then pushed her over the edge into the river” (Stafford)

-it may be seen that man is knowledgeable of this consequences, yet he opts to continue the action, killing not only Mother Nature but the potentiality or the new life it carries. Furthermore, the irony on the second and third stanza where the doe is stiff and cold, while the fawn inside her is warm and waiting, shows that the potentiality or the probable change is at man’s fingertips waiting to be noted and appreciated. However, man continues to be cold. Despite the desire to salvage life, chooses to swerve and or suddenly change direction into the dark, the darkness being, as mentioned earlier, a lifestyle that is insensitive to nature.

Conclusion As William Stafford’s style, the poem, “Traveling through the Dark” is written in a simple narrative manner, with no well-defined metric pattern. It is a poem in free verse with an internal rhyme scheme. It utilizes literary devices in order to achieve the writer’s main goal. The writer’s main goal is to tell the audience that the continuous innovations in technology are damaging the environment. Even the simple existence of a road in the middle of what used to be a vast forest brings harm to nature. Also, the cars which men are thankful for as it helps in transportation are actually death machines for animals in the wild.

More importantly, the main point of the poem is that man is knowledgeable of this occurrence. However, man opts to stay in the dark and ignores the fact that there still remains hope, waiting to be noticed. Through the metaphors, irony, antithesis, and other literary device, the poem’s goal is achieved. The poem is not merely an account of an unforgettable trip in the dark areas of the road, but a symbolic narrative of the truth of the times. It tells of man’s embrace of greed for innovation and his neglect of the nature and its gifts. Works Cited “Deer”. 2009. Thesaurus. com. 7 April 2009 < http://thesaurus. reference.

com/browse/deer? qsrc=2889>. “Fawn”. 2009. Thesaurus. com. 7 April 2009 < http://thesaurus. reference. com/browse/fawn? qsrc=2889>. Nelson, Paul E. “Organic Poetry”. 2007. Global Voices Radio. 7 April 2009 < http://www. organicpoetry. org/>. Stafford, William. “Travelling through the Dark”. 1962. A Compendium of Poetry. 6 April 2009 < http://www. cs. berkeley. edu/~richie/poetry/html/poem185. html>. “Travel. ” 2009. Thesaurus. com. 7 April 2009 < http://thesaurus. reference. com/browse/travel? qsrc=2889>. “William Stafford”. 2009. Academy of American Poets. 6 April 2009 < http://www. poets. org/poet. php/prmPID/224>.

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