William Stafford Writing Styles in Ways to Live

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It is not very unusual for a poem to be broken down into numbered sections the way that "Ways to Live" is. The most frequent observation about such poems is that each of the four segments, each of which has its own individual title, could stand by itself as an independent poem. This may be true, but once that is established, it helps to consider why Stafford decided to present them as one entire unit. There are similar themes that run through all of the sections of this poem, drawing relationships between them even when the subject matter of each might seem unrelated to the rest.

The first section, "India," for instance, is narrowly concerned with Hindu religious beliefs, a subject that is not discussed in the rest of the poem. In a more general sense, though, it is about what happens after death, a subject that is...

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This section contains 987 words
(approx. 3 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.