Study Guide

Traveling through the Dark Summary

By William Stafford

Traveling through the Dark Summary

William Stafford's "Traveling through the Dark" isn't a very sunny kind of poem. Okay, that's an understatement. It is, in fact, (as the title suggests) quite dark. Here's what goes down:

The speaker is driving along a mountain road at night when he comes across a dead deer. To prevent an accident, the speaker decides to push the dead deer off the road and down into the canyon. As he drags the deer off, he discovers she was pregnant—the fawn still alive in the dead mother's belly. The discovery causes the speaker to hesitate for a moment, considering the dead and the living… before pushing the doe over the edge and into the river.