William Stafford: Poems

Morally Right Versus Logically Correct

Encountering a dead deer on the road is not an unusual occurrence; oncoming drivers see the road block and handle the situation accordingly. Some drivers will swerve to miss the animal -- it is safe to say that most drivers will swerve -- but a select group of drivers will stop to move the deer out of the road. An example of a driver in that select group can be found in William Stafford’s poem “Traveling through the Dark.” After moving the deer out of the road, this particular driver must choose between the decision that his heart recognizes as morally right and the decision that his mind recognizes as logically correct.

The driver, who is also the speaker of this poem, comes across the deer in the first two lines of the poem: “Traveling through the dark I found a deer / dead on the edge of the Wilson River road” (lines 1-2). Even though it was not he who caused the death of the animal, he knows what he must do with its carcass: “It is usually best to roll them into the canyon” (line 3). By saying “it is usually best…,” the driver is giving past knowledge to this type of incident; this is not the first time that the driver has had to do such a thing (line 3). It is in the line that follows that the driver offers justification...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 740 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4426 literature essays, 1447 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in