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I have come to love the poetry of Mark Strand and poems like "The Continuous Life" are the reason.
Lately I find myself spilling the spoiler of a poem's ending. It's my strategy to tempt you to click through and read the entire poem on this busy day, at the end of a busy week in a busy month, which is wedged into a busy year in your busy life. We are a busy people. But I love to stop and ask myself what I'm busy with, and does it matter?
Strand (I am learning, as I read more about him) was long preoccupied with the darkness and meaninglessness of life, though I find his wry response, recounted in this bio piece at the Poetry Foundation, amusing:
Strand’s early collections of poetry, including Reasons for Moving (1968), made his reputation as a dark, brooding poet haunted by death, but Strand himself does not find them “especially dark,” he told Thomas. “I find them evenly lit,” he continued.Perhaps the distribution of light became a constant with his 1990 collection entitled The Continuous Life. In the same Poetry Foundation article mentioned above, I learned:
Strand published The Continuous Life, his first book of poems in a decade, in 1990. In the New York Times Book Review, Alfred Corn commented that the book “doesn’t strike me so much as a capstone of Mr. Strand’s career as one more turning in his development.” Corn pointed to changes in meter, diction and point of view. “This is a poetry written, as it were, in the shadow of high mountains, and touched with their grandeur,” he concluded.
You be the judge. If you aren't too busy.
The Continuous Life
by Mark Strand
...Say that each of you tries
To keep busy, learning to lean down close and hear
The careless breathing of earth and feel its available
Languor come over you, wave after wave, sending
Small tremors of love through your brief,
Undeniable selves, into your days, and beyond.
Read the entire poem here, at The Writer's Almanac.