William Stafford

(January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993 / Kansas)

For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid


There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot--air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. 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.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid by William Stafford )

  • Bronze Star - 2,116 Points Kevin Patrick (3/25/2015 5:45:00 PM)

    A great summarization of life, and what it means to have the freedom to go where we please, it can be a perfect metaphor for those who graduate from high school or post secondary and are now independent, true freedom is both liberating and terrifying, but to be the master of your own destiny is enough to make it a wonderful country to belong. A wonderful work. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,463 Points John Richter (3/25/2015 12:38:00 PM)

    Poetic meaning? Living in our country is like walking on a cliff ledge? And that our own fear will keep us from falling..... Only wish I knew the year he wrote this - what with FDR's famous proclamation 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself...' being a sure contender for Stafford's impetus... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Joseph Ferguson (1/29/2008 3:02:00 AM)

    Like a true elder and poetic friend, Stafford's great vision and life experience fashions a verbal sea-worthy vessel for the reader. No swimming is necessary. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,222 Points john tiong chunghoo (3/25/2006 12:19:00 AM)

    it is so true.

    this face is
    a shadow too
    the real me i hide from light (Report) Reply

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