“Traveling through the Dark”

Using the Link: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42775/traveling-through-the-dark

1. Read the poem and TP-CASTT analysis over “Traveling through the Dark”                                                                        I Provide a completed  TP-CASTT the first PDF

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2. Answer the given questions within the Slides pertaining to “Traveling through the Dark”. This can be seen in the second PDF

3. Use specific textual evidence to support your claims when answering the questions. 

AVOID generic answers such as “this literary device lets the reader see what is happening.” or ” There is imagery in this poem.” 

Free Response

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TP-CATT Analysis on Stafford’s “Traveling Through the Dark”

The title of the poem “Traveling Through the Dark” shows that there are strange things that happen when people travel at night. For instance, in the dark, people may not spot animals or people walking on the road and without knowing, they may sometimes knock them down. The title also reveals that there is a significant different between travelling when there is light and when there is darkness.

In a conversational manner, the poet takes the reader to the scene of the accident which occurred at night and explains the details in a straightforward way. For instance, the poet reveals that he stumbled upon a pregnant dead deer on the road and had to swerve to avoid it. On stopping and inspecting the corpse, it becomes evident that it is a recent killing. Through this explanation, it becomes clear that the deer on the Wilson River road should be moved so that other drivers will not have to swerve to avoid the dear as this may endanger them and others.

There are several poetic devices in the poem. There is an extensive use of symbols in the poem. For instance, the poet has used the car to symbolize human civilization or technology. There is also the use of alliteration to add emphasis to the words of the poem as seen in line one. It also draws attention to the scene of the poem further setting it into emotion.

Traveling through the dark I found a deer

dead on the edge of the Wilson River road

Other stylistic devices that the poet has used in the poem include elements of imagery, consonance and assonance.

The poem generally reveals a conflict between the human heart and mind thus bringing out a sympathetic tone and attitude. For instance, the driver in his explanation of the accident scene feels a sense of responsibility to other drivers who may have to swerve to avoid the dead deer. The poet also shows compassion to the fawn who will never be born because the mother is dead.

There is poetic shift as evidenced in the poet’s use of words and the development of the stanzas. For instance, the poem has five stanzas yet the first four stanzas are more detailed and provide an illustration of transitioning into more explanation. This is different from the last stanza which is only two lines and uses the word ‘then’ to indicate a close. There is also the use of dashes in stanzas three and five to illustrate a new explanation and continuity. Stanza divisions is also an evident use of shifts by the poet.

Having understood the poem from the stylistic devices used and the attitude of the poet, it is evident that the poem is a beautiful short piece that illustrates a conflict between the human heart and mind. It traverses the compassions and emotions of the poet and reveals to a great length his sense of duty or responsibility to his fellow drivers travelling on the dark Wilson River Road. There is also a starkly conflict between nature and technology. For instance, an analysis of the accident scene shows that mankind through his modern technology such as cars is killing off nature.

The poem shows that the human experience is marred with various conflicts most of which shape people’s compassion and a sense of duty. It addresses the contrasting elements of nature and human civilization so that the underlying conflict is revealed. The poet therefore wants to bring out the need for compassion for nature.


Stafford, W. (1998). “Traveling through the Dark” from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems.

AP Lit Skill Test- Literal & Figurative Words & Their Meanings

“Traveling Through the Dark” by
William E. Stafford

Read the poem here and answer the question
below and questions on the following slides.

1. What are the denotations of the following words from
the poem?
a. Purred (verb)

b. Glare (noun)

c. Swerving (verb)

©2020, AP Lit & More


AP Lit Skill Test- Literal & Figurative Words & Their Meanings

2. How does knowing the denotative meaning of these
words (from #1) facilitate a literary understanding of the

a. Purred (line 14)

b. Glare (noun)
c. Swerving (verb)

©2020, AP Lit & More

“ Traveling Through the Dark” by William E.

AP Lit Skill Test- Literal & Figurative Words & Their Meanings

3. What are the connotations, representations, and
associations of the following words or phrases?

a. “make more dead” (4)

b. “a recent killing” (6)

c. “listen” (16)

d. “pushed” (18)

©2020, AP Lit & More

“ Traveling Through the Dark” by William E.

AP Lit Skill Test- Literal & Figurative Words & Their Meanings

4. How does considering the connotations, representations, and
associations of these words (from #3) convey figurative
meaning and facilitate an interpretation of the poem?

a. “make more dead” (4)
b. “a recent killing” (6)
c. “listen” (16)
d. “pushed” (18)
©2020, AP Lit & More
“ Traveling Through the Dark” by William E.

AP Lit Skill Test- Literal & Figurative Words & Their Meanings

5. Which events in this poem convey figurative meaning
through representations and associations?

©2020, AP Lit & More
“ Traveling Through the Dark” by William E.

6. How do multiple literary and/or figurative meanings in a
text create ambiguity?

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