The More of Art and “Ask Me” by William Stafford

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 “The greatest art offers us images by which to imagine our lives. And once the imagination has been awakened, it is procreative: through it we can give more than we were given, say more than we had to say.”

“We feel a spirit move in the poems that is neither ‘me’ nor ‘the poet’ but a third thing between.”

— excerpts from The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde

I haven’t read The Gift in its entirety, but I came across this quotation in one of my writer’s notebooks. Makes me want to read the whole book. Heck, makes me want to read any book just to feel that message with Hyde’s wisdom in the back of my mind making me aware of what is happening.

Here’s a favorite poem.

Ask Me
by William Stafford

Sometime 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.

 

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