Stafford was a Quaker and a pacifist. He served in a camp for conscientious objectors during World War II, repairing roads and planting trees. During the 1960s he became one of the first American poets to lend their voices to the antinuclear and antiwar movements. He published "At the Bomb Testing Site" in 1960:
| At noon in the desert a panting lizard |
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
as if something might happen.
It was looking at something farther off
than people could see, an important scene
acted in stone for little selves
at the flute end of consequences.
There was just a continent without much on it
under a sky that never cared less.
Ready for a change, the elbows
The hands gripped hard on the desert.
Gemini perform the songs they have made from Stafford poems, and local poets and audience members read some of the poems, in a program to remember William Stafford at the Ann Arbor District Library on Tuesday, April 27.
[Originally published in April, 2004.]