William E. Stafford

Peace is central to the work of the prolific and celebrated poet William E. Stafford (1914 - 1993). So central, in fact, that the Poetry Foundation website tells us that "Stafford established his habit of rising early every morning to write during the 1940s when he lived with other conscientious objectors in work camps in Arkansas and California." This simple poem reminds us that peace is our foundation, if we only choose to see it.

At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

From The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Stafford.

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