In the poem "Traveling Through The Dark"  by William Stafford, What does the line, "I thought hard for us all--my only swerving" mean?

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copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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This second-to-last line in Stafford's "Traveling through the Dark" suggests that the poem's speaker is contemplating the repercussions of his two potential actions--pushing the doe's body into the river and killing the unborn fawn within her or risking his own life by standing on the curve of a narrow mountain road while trying to save the fawn.

The "I thought hard for us all" portion of the line is a reference to the "group" identified in the previous stanza. Here, the wilderness is personified as though all of the natural world is watching and waiting to see the speaker's decision. The "my only swerving" portion of the line is an echo from the poem's fourth line ("to swerve might make more dead") and suggests the degree and quality of thought being put into this decision.

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