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The Spring Branch

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To order, see Catalog.


As a metaphorical journey through the mind of a fisherman over the course of one year, The Spring Branch clearly references Edmund Spenser (an English Renaissance poet whose Shepherd's Calendar like The Spring Branch is cyclical and structured in the form of a calendar).

As Shaffer points out in one telling line, however, this narrator is wholly American "never to be construed or confused as being/related to the anglophile." He is clearly inspired by the American Romantic poet Walt Whitman, and one can see Whitman's influence in Shaffer's emphasis on the senses, nature, and his depiction of the poet as philosopher. . . .

Like the pastoral and romantic poets who precede him, Shaffer is clearly concerned with the natural world. His mistrust of advancement, both technological and economical, is in keeping with his role as philosopher-poet. In order to remind us that "The true gold in the creek is not the soft metal/but the glorious reflection of the sun from the flanks," we need the Tony Shaffers of this world. [Amy Thilges, Warrensburg Free Press 3.l,April 8-21, 2004: 15-16.]

Excerpts from "After 20 years of thought, a book is born" by Chuck Orman.

"His [Shaffer's] book is not one you will read straight through, but will dip into from time to time and come out feeling better."

[Quoting Leroy Van Dyke] "'Tony is multi-talented--a musician, a teacher, a philosopher and he has studied the human animal. He has a sage comment for everyone.'"

(Sedalia Deomocrat, Friday Jan. 21, 2005, p.7)

Cover design by Tony Shaffer




Blind Boone Days Bookfair; Sedalia signing.
Tony Shaffer and Ben Van Dyke



April 26

spring makes things green
before they blossom
people too
i was green as grass once
and now i'm a bloomin whatever
i surely dont have all the answers
about all i can say
is that i know more than i knew then
that is enough

the tree outside my cabin window
has slipped into budding
without ceremony
if pomp is necessary
under the circumstances
then i celebrate my gradualization
in a diplomic manner
hoping i have replaced my ignorance
with wasdumb

i shove aside
philostrophic considerations
and wander out the door
hat on head, coat over arm, red setter at my side
and commune with my tree
it is nameless, but i know it well enough
in its gentle way it has shown me
and i wish to return the consideration

December 25

I have a gift for you
it isnt much but i wanted you to have it
i wrapped it
as best i could
so that you would know that it is for you
and i hope you like it

did you ever stand outside
in the new fallen snow
at midnight preceding this day?
i have and just a few minutes after the bell tolls
a calm sets in
like no other time of the year
and the animals seem to sense it
and relax
and look skyward
at the icily glittering points of light
which seem cumulatively to warm the soul
despite the winter cold
and the air breathed in is sweet
and the warmth comes from the inside out
and not a sound disturbs the still

and this wonderful feeling
informs without words
telling of magic on earth and in the heavens
tangible and real
and whispering
in a voice so low
that a candle could drown it out
that there is