Traveling Through the Dark
– William Stafford
“Traveling Through the Dark” is an ironical and sentimental poem composed by William Stafford. In this poem, the poet presents a great tension between two realities, two systems of life. On one hand, we think and say that we have to fulfill our responsibility. On the other hand, there are emotions warmer) than responsibility and deeper than good judgments. The poet treats equally to the both sides of the conflict.
In this poem, the poet describes how he is moved by the death of pregnant doe. The poem is split into five stanzas. In the first stanza, the poet is driving along the mountain road at night. Suddenly, he sees a deer lying dead on the edge of the Wilson River road. He thinks to remove it from then narrow road. In the second stanza, the speaker stops his car and goes near the deer. He finds that it is a pregnant doe which is recently killed. Her body is already stiff, almost cold. He drags the doe off. In the third stanza, the poet thinks seriously about the fate of the fawn still living and waiting to be born in the womb of the dead doe (female deer). The poet is filled with pity as it is impossible for the fawn to be born. For some time, the poet hesitates to do anything. In the fourth stanza, the poet describes the engine of his care. The warm and living engine contrasts with the cold and dead doe. In the final stanza, the poet solves the problem or tension by pushing the doe over the edge into the river.
The poem is ironical and suggestive. The irony is directed towards those nature lovers who drive carelessly and put the life of innocent animals in danger. Tough they show pity to the unborn fawn, they have no sympathy for the dead doe. The reference to the fate of alive but never-to-be born fawn makes the readers very sad and sentimental.