In his poem, "Traveling Through the Dark," William Stafford presents the reader with the difficulty of one man's choice. Immediately, the scene is set, with the driver, who is "traveling though the dark" (line 1) coming upon a recently killed deer. At first, his decision with what to do with the deer is easy; he knows he must push it off the edge for the safety of other motorists, but then, a closer examination of the deer reveals to the man new circumstances. His decision is now perplexing, and his course of action is unclear. Through his use of metaphor, symbolism, and personification, Stafford alludes to the difficult decisions that occur along the road of life, and the consequences that are a result from those decisions. With the use of these stylistic devices, William Stafford illuminates death as a consequence of certain decisions.
To illustrate the theme of death, Stafford presents a metaphor relating the literal road to the road of life. In the first stanza, the road is described; it is narrow and is called the "Wilson river Road" (line 2). Also, the reader gets the sense that the road is very dark, and thus isolated. The only illuminated section of this road is the stretch that the man is currently travelling. Symbolically, this represents the present in the man?s life. The road that has already been traveled symbolizes the past. The man is unable to see it because of the darkness; yet, it is implanted in his memory through his experiences. Furthermore, the man literally cannot see farther ahead on this road, only as far as the headlights will allow. Likewise, the future in our lives is yet to be discovered. As one can see, Stafford?s metaphorical desc...
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...g into account all factors. This personification adds to the development of the poem, and illustrates how we are all influenced in our decisions.
Through his explanation and description throughout this poem, Stafford creates the image of the road of life and illustrates how the decisions we make are all interrelated and have consequences. "Travelling Through the Dark" reveals the difficulty in life, and the difficulty in properly dealing with problems that naturally occur as one progresses along the path of life. The biggest roadblock that can occur along this progression is death, which must be properly dealt with, as William Stafford proves by way of his uses of metaphor, symbolism, and personification.
Stafford, William. ?Traveling Through the Dark.? Sound and Sense. Eighth edition. Ed. Laurence Perrine. Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1992.
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