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Keeping Things Whole

Mark Strand

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Added by: Jough (Editor)
This is one of my favourite poems - it's logical, it captures absence, it's profound without being annoyingly "deep," and it's limited in its scope - and that's a *good* thing.

Some poets always seem to be going for the brass ring - this poem is just happy being what it is - a look at being something that displaces nothing - although I get the feeling that Strand is a little apologetic about moving the air out of the space that he occupies. Only poets (or Catholics) could feel guilty about taking up the space that the *air* previously held...
Added by: Teck
I don't see this poem as an admission of guilt for exisiting or "taking up space". For me it has deeper signifigance as a poem about the lack of personal identity and the inability to connect or belong to a particular landscape. The speaker is then forced to move (physically, spiritually?) to maintain any semblance of realness, of meaningfulness, in an absurd world. He's like a shark that must move to live; if he stops he sinks into the abyss, a slow descent into nothingness.
Existential implications aside...
Added by: John Heckbert
Kierkegaard once said that "the more you think the less you are". I think that this quote is the key to the whole poem. Activity (expressed simply as "motion") keeps the speaker whole because it is only through the activity of the body that we remain connected to the world.
Added by: Helen
Strand accurately captures our paradoxical and entirely human obsession with fame and anonymity.
I think we can all find a little bit of our
awkward, zygotic, "Do I dare disturb the universe" selves in this poem.
glad you like my dads stuff
Added by: Thomas Strand
i always hated this poem of his, but your comments have shed a new light on this poem. I must say, i have difficulty analyzing a poem (being so young), but all your points are true, i think i'll re-evaluate my opinion of this poem.

Read the poem "poor north", I always loved that one.
Added by: Adam
I think this poem accurately describes the point of view that most people have, poetry critics especially.
keeping things whole
Added by: Don Irwin
I first encountered this poem when Mr. Strand became U.S. Poet Laureate. It a powerful poem to me. It says so much with so little. As a poet myself, I've always wondered "what if someone wrote a poem without all those extra words?" Now, I know.
Keeping Things Whole
Added by: John Rasmussen
I first read this poem in 1972. It has always been in my mind as probably one of the best image filled works. It fills me with emotional imagery similar to Wm.Carlos Williams "The Red Wheelbarrow". Truly a gift to write with such concise imagery and emotion that can leave a 30 year mark in my mind.
admiring you guys.
Added by: janine
i think "theres a lot to be said for nowhere" is a good reference to this poem.
strands of everything
Added by: josh flint
i agree with jough as far as the aesthetic of this poem; brevity and mildly profound logic is usually a killer. though, i'm not sure that i hear strand apologizing in the words themselves, rather the subject implies the precariousness of his position, which may be why the poem feels apologetic. that suggested, what i really admire about KTW is strand's tone - stoic and positive.

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