What did the regime order?

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While there is no tangible "regime" within the immediately apparent verse of William Stafford's "Burning a Book," the context is largely thought of as an allusion to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 . By this context, we can assume that the first part of the poem, which details...

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While there is no tangible "regime" within the immediately apparent verse of William Stafford's "Burning a Book," the context is largely thought of as an allusion to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. By this context, we can assume that the first part of the poem, which details the actual burning of a book in a painful, poignant, and personified manner, is a reaction to a hypothetical regime. Whether it is fictitious or based in reality, the regime has ordered the burning of books. This burning could be quite literal, as it is in Bradbury's work, or it could simply be a metaphor for censorship in the many forms that it takes.

However, the burning that Stafford himself admits that he is guilty of is not one of action, but of negligence. Stafford asserts that any sort of missed opportunity in the act of literary creation, or having an idea and simply letting it stagnate instead of acting on it, is a type of book burning. Writers have a responsibility to the truth, and need to get their ideas out on paper because it simply represents part of their truth. In this way, all texts that are written with genuine care are sacred. He counts himself guilty for letting opportunities slip through his fingers.

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