Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mark Strand, April 11, 1934 -- November 29, 2014





U.S. Poet Laureate, Mark Strand

One of America's best.  And we have so many great American poets.  I've read his work all my life, and I have so many favorites.  But for this season of the year, I chose these two, because he tells us what we do not have the courage to tell ourselves:


Lines For Winter

Tell yourself 
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air 
that you will go on 
walking, hearing 
the same tune no matter where 
you find yourself— 
inside the dome of dark 
or under the cracking white 
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow. 
Tonight as it gets cold 
tell yourself what you know 
which is nothing 
but the tune your bones play 
as you keep going. And you will be able 
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars. 
And if it happens that you cannot 
go on or turn back 
and you find yourself 
where you will be at the end, 
tell yourself 
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs 
that you love what you are.



The End

Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end, 
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like 
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end, 
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back. 

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat, 
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down 
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead. 
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky 

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus 
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight, 
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing 
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.




"The small fire of winter stars"

2 comments:

Rational Nation USA said...

If a man knows not what will be waiting for him at the end or what he will sing...

He has not lived.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I love that poem. Actually I love many of Strand's poems.