William Stafford quotes

  • Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.
    -- William Stafford

    #Dance #Children #Kids

  • I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.
    -- William Stafford

    #Kindness #Not Giving Up #Thoughtful

  • I embrace emerging experience, I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.
    -- William Stafford

    #Butterfly #Discovery #Experience

  • Wisdom is having things right in your life and knowing why.
    -- William Stafford

    #Life #Wisdom #Learning

  • 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 and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
    -- William Stafford

    #Stars #Home #Missing

  • Once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall, a season changes and we come back changed but safe, quiet, grateful.
    -- William Stafford

    #Grateful #Gold #Safe

  • Even the upper end of the river believes in the ocean.
    -- William Stafford

    #Ocean #Believe #Rivers

  • A poem is a serious joke, a truth that has learned jujitsu.
    -- William Stafford

    #Serious #Crafts #Jokes

  • Please think about this as you go on. Breathe on the world. Hold out your hands to it. When morning and evenings roll along, watch how they open and close, how they invite you to the long party that your life is.
    -- William Stafford

    #Morning #Party #Thinking

  • The greatest ownership of all is to glance around and understand.
    -- William Stafford

    #Ownership #Glances

  • I keep following this sort of hidden river of my life, you know, whatever the topic or impulse which comes, I follow it along trustingly. And I don't have any sense of its coming to a kind of crescendo, or of its petering out either. It is just going steadily along.
    -- William Stafford

    #Rivers #Topics #Kind

  • The more you let yourself be distracted from where you are going, the more you are the person that you are. It's not so much like getting lost as it is like getting found.
    -- William Stafford

    #Getting Lost #Madness #Where You Are

  • ...What you fear will not go away; it will take you into yourself and bless you and keep you. That's the world, and we all live there.
    -- William Stafford

    #Fear #Going Away #World

  • Everyone is born a poet - a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is: Why did other people stop?
    -- William Stafford

    #Real #Caring #People

  • A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.
    -- William Stafford

    #Process #Found

  • There is no such thing as writer's block for writers whose standards are low enough.
    -- William Stafford

    #Block #Enough #Lows

  • It is as if the ordinary language we use every day has a hidden set of signals, a kind of secret code.
    -- William Stafford

    #Secret #Use #Ordinary

  • It is this impulse to change the quality of experience that I recognize as central to creation. . . . Out of all that could be done, you choose one thing. What that one thing is, nothing else can tell you--you come at it over unmarked snow.
    -- William Stafford

    #Snow #Quality #Done

  • Some people are blinded by their experience. Soldiers know how important war is. Owners of slaves learn every day how inferior subject peoples are.
    -- William Stafford

    #War #People #Soldier

  • So, the world happens twice-- once what we see it as; second it legends itself deep, the way it is.
    -- William Stafford

    #Way #World #Legends

  • Literature is not a picture of life, but is a separate experience with its own kind of flow and enhancement.
    -- William Stafford

    #Enhancement #Literature #Flow

  • You shouldn't have standards that inhibit you from writing It really doesn't make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you've done it.
    -- William Stafford

    #Writing #Differences #Assessment

  • When you allow me to live with you, every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.
    -- William Stafford

    #World #Salvation #Glances

  • Others may be able to accept standards from another, but an artist is a person who decides.
    -- William Stafford

    #Artist #Able #May

  • Once you decide to do right, life is easy, there are no distractions.
    -- William Stafford

    #Decision #Life Is #Distraction

  • The earth says have a place, be what that place requires; hear the sound the birds imply and see as deep as ridges go behind each other.
    -- William Stafford

    #Bird #Earth #Sound

  • I'll be Pavlov, you be the dog.
    -- William Stafford

    #Dog #Pavlov

  • I heard a bird congratulating itself all day for being a jay. Nobody cared. But it was glad all over again, and said so, again.
    -- William Stafford

    #Bird #Said #Heard

  • Ask Me 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.
    -- William Stafford

    #Hurt #Mistake #Hate

  • A speech is something you say so as to distract attention from what you do not say.
    -- William Stafford

    #Attention #Speech

  • An owl sound wandered along the road with me. I didn't hear it--I breathed it into my ears.
    -- William Stafford

    #Owl #Ears #Sound

  • Keep a journal, and don't assume that your work has to accomplish anything worthy: artists and peace-workers are in it for the long haul, and not to be judged by immediate results.
    -- William Stafford

    #Artist #Long #Assuming

  • The Way It Is There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread. ~ William Stafford ~
    -- William Stafford

    #Letting Go #Hurt #People

  • They miss the whisper that runs any day in your mind, "Who are you really, wanderer?"-- and the answer you have to give no matter how dark and cold the world around you is: "Maybe I'm a king.
    -- William Stafford

    #Running #Kings #Dark

  • A student brings something to discuss, saying, "I don't know whether this is really good, or whether I should throw it in the wastebasket." The assumption is that one or the other choice is the right move. No. Almost everything we say or think or do - or write - comes in that spacious human area bounded by something this side of the sublime and something above the unforgivable.
    -- William Stafford

    #Moving #Teaching #Writing

  • People wander about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread.
    -- William Stafford

    #Spiritual #Journey #People

  • I have a feeling that art is something you do for yourself, and that any time you turn your decisions over to someone else you're postponing at best, your own development. The atmosphere of the workshop should be that of trying out one's own work and accepting the signals from others but not accepting the dictation of others because that is a violation of the spirit of art. Art can't be done by somebody else, it has got to be done by the artist.
    -- William Stafford

    #Art #Teaching #Decision

  • I have this feeling of wending my way or plundering through a mysterious jungle of possibilities when I am writing. This jungle has not been explored by previous writers. It never will be explored. It's endlessly varying as we progress through the experience of time. These words that occur to me come out of my relation to the language which is developing even as I am using it.
    -- William Stafford

    #Writing #Feelings #Progress

  • When the snake decided to go straight, he didn't get anywhere.
    -- William Stafford

    #Journey #Snakes

  • It's love,' they say. You touch the right one and a whole half of the universe wakes up, a new half.
    -- William Stafford

    #Wake Up #Half #Universe

  • Let the bucket of memory down into the well, bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one stirring, no plans. Just being there.
    -- William Stafford

    #Memories #Just Being #Buckets

  • You were aimed from birth: you will never be alone... The whole wide world pours down.
    -- William Stafford

    #Purpose #World #Birth

  • A student comes to me with a piece of writing, holds it out, says, 'Is this good?' A whole sequence of emergencies goes off in my mind. That's not a question to ask anyone but yourself.
    -- William Stafford

    #Writing #Mind #Emergencies

  • One way to find your place is like the rain, a million requests for lodging, one that wins, finds your cheek: you find your home.
    -- William Stafford

    #Rain #Home #Winning

  • 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.
    -- William Stafford

    #Rivers #Waiting #Silence

  • I am not learning definitions as established in even the latest dictionaries. I am not a dictionary-maker. I am a person a dictionary-maker has to contend with. I am a living evidence in the development of language.
    -- William Stafford

    #Development #Definitions #Language

  • The ocean and I have many pebbles To find and wash off and roll into shape.
    -- William Stafford

    #Ocean #Sea #Shapes

  • The signals we give-yes or no, or maybe-/should be clear/the darkness around us is deep.
    -- William Stafford

    #Giving #Darkness #Signals

  • All still when summer is over stand shocks in the field, nothing left to whisper, not even good-bye, to the wind. After summer was over we knew winter would come: we knew silence would wait, tall, patient calm.
    -- William Stafford

    #Summer #Winter #Wind

  • A writer is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things.
    -- William Stafford

    #Writing #Found #Process

  • Can injustice one way be corrected without the interim reaction that tries to impose injustice the other way?
    -- William Stafford

    #Trying #Way #Injustice

  • When a goat likes a book, the whole book is gone, and the meaning has to go find an author again.
    -- William Stafford

    #Book #Goats #Likes

  • Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now?
    -- William Stafford

    #Breathing #World

  • The things you do not have to say make you rich. Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk. Hearing the things you do not have to hear dulls your hearing. And the things you know before you hear them; these are you and the reason you are in the world.
    -- William Stafford

    #Hearing #World #Rich

  • And the things you know before you hear them; these are you and the reason you are in the world.
    -- William Stafford

    #World #Reason

  • Security of character would be like a compass, you know? Other people may say that this way is north, or this way might be north. But the compass just says -- north. That's what we count on.
    -- William Stafford

    #Character #Compassion #People

  • You can treat experience as a set of surprises on which to exercise your quirky self.
    -- William Stafford

    #Exercise #Self #Quirky