Thursday, September 8, 2011

Heritage of Words - Travelling Through the Dark

7. Travelling Through the Dark

“Travelling Through the Dark” is a short beautiful poem composed by William Stafford. The poem is about making decision between two realities of life: efficiency and responsibility on one hand and emotion and sentiment on the other. So, it is about dilemma we face in life while making decision. Responsibility is dry and unglamorous virtue whereas emotion is warmer than responsibility. The poet has tried to present the idea that decision made on the basis of responsibility and efficiency is always the best and practical whereas emotional or sentimental decision is impractical which shows human weakness. The poem also deals on the relationship between the nature and human beings and their activities. Because of our own activities we are over exploiting the nature and travelling towards the dark future.


The poem has been written in the first person narrative. While the poet is travelling alone through the dark he sees a dead deer on the edge of Wilson river road. He stops his car and moves back to see the deer. He later knows that it is a doe and has an unborn fawn in its belly. Now he shows sympathy to the doe. This is one system of life. In one system he has sympathy to the dead doe and in the next system: he feels his responsibility that he has to clear the road throwing the dead doe in the gorges. When the speaker touches the dead doe, he finds that the doe is pregnant and her fawn is waiting inside her womb. The fawn is alive. Though it is alive, it will never be born. He feels his mistake and feels pity on the fawn and becomes sad. He realizes the fate of the fawn inside the dead doe. He now finds a contrast between the doe and his car. His car looks life – life where as the doe is cold and stiff. The poet is in dilemma. He thinks different possible course of actions. The physical action ceases at this point and is replaced by the mental action. He starts thinking about the suitable way out. He finds himself in conflict between the practical and the sentimental decision. At last, the speaker pushes the doe into the gorges and solves the problem. The great tension of the dead doe and the living but never to be born fawn is now solved. On the other hand there are efficiency and responsibility and on the other hand there are emotions warmer than efficiency and responsibility and deeper than good judgment. In this way the poem gives full justice to both sides of the tension.