The Well Rising

By William E. Stafford

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William E. Stafford Biography

Born in 1914 in Hutchinson, Kansas to Ruby and Earl Ingersoll Stafford. He was the oldest of threes kids, a younger brother brother and sister. Worked many manual jobs during the Great Depression. Attended University of Kansas and University of Iowa obtaining a PhD. When World War II broke out he registered as a conscientious objector. In 1944 he married Dorothy Hope Frantz and they had 4 kids. In 1948 he and his new family moved to Oregon to teach at Lewis and Clark College where he taught for 32 years until his retirement. He also, starting in 1970, acted as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. He died in 1993, he was 79 years old, in his home in Oregon. His poetry is noted as "deceptively simple" as it is often short and too the point, but on closer inspection contains a much deeper meaning. He was noted to be one of the most prolific American poet, writing over 120 poems alone, he also wrote a few books.

The Well Rising

The well rising without sound,

the spring on a hillside,

the plowshare brimming through deep ground

everywhere in the field—

The sharp swallows in their swerve

flaring and hesitating

hunting for the final curve

coming closer and closer—

The swallow heart from wingbeat to wingbeat

counseling decision, decision:

thunderous examples. I place my feet

with care in such a world.

Audio Version

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Just as many people say about William E. Stafford's poems, this poem is very short and to the point; however, without looking deep into the poem one may miss many key details Stafford tires to explore. The well rising, what is the well rising? The well rising represents those great things, or people that are often times passed by, not acknowledged for their greatness, their skills, their wonders. The entire poem, The Well Rising, is a analogy for these great tings or people as represented by a flower. As a seed, it can not be seen and is not appreciated. When it comes to spring, on the other hand, it breaks out into the worlds eyes, without sound, to be appreciated. Birds, or swallows, try to stop these seeds from growing into something great, they try to eat the seeds and destroy the plant making it hard for the seeds to grow, and hard for the flower to fully blossom just as some people or things are held down by others, holding back their rightful appreciation and respect. Some seeds are able to make it past the swallows vicious attacks and fight their way to the flower the set out to blossom into, and when they do they are truly appreciated with all the other flowers making the world great, in which others can appreciate

Major Themes

  • Success
  • Hope
  • Acknowledgement
  • Nature
  • Peace