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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

David Allan Evans


In the first chapter, "The Animal that Drinks up Everything," I will deliberate upon those poems whereby Stafford announces the necessity for concern for the continued existence of nature. In the second and third chapters, "Touching Nature" and "Traveling Through the Dark," I will discuss those poems in which Stafford highlights encounters, whether accidental or intentional, of people nearing harmony with nature. I will also disclose here some difficulties and criteria needed for harmony of people and nature including: the touch of hands as a means of reaching harmony, and humility as a requirement of people attempting a harmony with nature. When I endeavored to conquer the hill near the Missouri River, I was trying to control, not harmonize with nature; I was not exhibiting humility. Papa Beans had great respect for the fish, mammals, and birds he took from nature for his subsistence. The carcasses of all animals consumed were buried so that their souls could return to the earth, their origin. Papa Beans had humility when approaching nature. In the third chapter, "Traveling Through the Dark," I will also include some arguments about the poem, "Traveling Through the Dark," mainly with Stafford's alleged discomfort as a poet with his new region, the Pacific Northwest, and Stafford's attitude towards animals and humans. In the fourth chapter, "Celebrating the harmony," I will discuss those poems where humans, although briefly, reach a harmony with nature.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Stafford, William, 1914-1993 -- Criticism and interpretation
Nature in literature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University