Mark Strand (1934-2014)
|Cat in a Hat by Rene Magritte|
-from Dark Harbor
It is true, as someone has said, that in
A world without heaven all is farewell.
Whether you wave your hand or not,
It is farewell, and if no tears come to your eyes
It is still farewell, and if you pretend not to notice,
Hating what passes, it is still farewell.
Farewell no matter what. And the palms as they lean
Over the green, bright lagoon, and the pelicans
Diving, and the glistening bodies of bathers resting,
Are stages in an ultimate stillness, and the movement
Of sand, and of wind, and the secret moves of the body
Are part of the same, a simplicity that turns being
Into an occasion for mourning, or into an occasion
Worth celebrating, for what else does one do,
Feeling the weight of the pelicans' wings,
The density of the palms' shadows, the cells that darken
The backs of bathers? These are beyond the distortions
Of change, beyond the evasions of music. The end
Is enacted again and again. And we feel it
In the temptations of sleep, in the moon's ripening,
In the wine as it waits in the glass.
So You Say
It is all in the mind, you say, and has
nothing to do with happiness. The coming of cold,
the coming of heat, the mind has all the time in the world.
You take my arm and say something will happen,
something unusual for which we were always prepared,
like the sun arriving after a day in Asia,
like the moon departing after a night with us.
More poetry by Mark Stand