Explain the significance of the title “Traveling Through the Dark," by William Stafford.

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copelmat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of Stafford's poem operates on multiple levels. "Traveling through the Dark" could simply be a reference to the fact that the speaker of this poem is barreling down a winding mountain road late at night until he encounters the dead doe in the middle of the road. However, the title also works on a more metaphoric level as well. We human beings are always in such a hurry to get from point A to point B, often disengaged from the more philosophic questions that guide our understanding of our own existence. We are all traveling through the dark." Much like the speaker in the poem, it often takes a sudden event to make us pause and reflect upon what is most important and think about the greater good and the effects each one of our decisions might have on others. Such experiences trigger moments of the profound and awake us from the dream-like trance we enjoy as we journey through so much of our lives. As humans--and like the speaker in the poem--we all want to find meaning and purpose and understanding; we all want to "light" at the end of long, dark traveled path.