Study Guide

Traveling through the Dark Wisdom and Knowledge

By William Stafford

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Wisdom and Knowledge

There's nothing we like more than dropping knowledge, yo. In "Traveling through the Dark," the speaker drops some knowledge and wisdom of his own. This poem has the steady tone and voice of a speaker who knows his stuff. And it's not just random trivia, like the air speed of an unladen swallow. This knowledge and wisdom leads the speaker to make the choice that he does.

Questions About Wisdom and Knowledge

  1. Why does the speaker know what he knows? How do you imagine he acquired this knowledge?
  2. How would this poem be different with a less knowledgeable speaker? Would a less knowledgeable speaker make a different choice in the end? Why?
  3. Is, as the saying goes, ignorance bliss? Does more knowledge just mean more responsibility and tougher decisions, or does knowledge bring with it a sense of peace through understanding (and, you know, wicked high test scores)?

Chew on This

True knowledge and wisdom is found in real world experience, not in books. (We know; we can't believe we said that either.)

Someone can be knowledgeable about a topic, but still make wrong or unethical decisions. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. Feel wiser now?

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