Ways to Live Essay

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Kelly is an instructor of creative writing and literature at Oakton Community College. In this essay, Kelly explores what aspects of "Ways to Live" make this poem about death believable.

William Stafford's poem "Ways to Live" offers readers advice about life, taking the grandest overall view of it by looking squarely at life's biggest challenge: how to deal with death. It does this with sober sincerity. This is a topic open to many different opinions, but this poem leaves its readers feeling confident that it comes from a poet who knows what he is talking about and secure in the belief that the truth the poem gives corresponds with the way the world really is.

Part of that confidence comes from the poet's biographical situation. Stafford wrote "Ways to Live" over the course of three days, July 19-21 of 1993, just five weeks before his death. It is difficult...

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This section contains 1,711 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ways to Live Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Ways to Live from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.