More Mark Strand

I attended Mark Strand’s reading Thursday night and a luncheon with him Friday.  It was great to get reacquainted with his poetry and his personality.  He is a true treasure, just a tremendous wit and intellect and a lot of fun to listen to.  He has a very unique way of reading his own poetry, which is quite flat and uninflected, yet at the same time sort of grandiose and sonorous.  Listening to him took me back to my days as a student at the University of Utah, where I was absolutely delighted (and a little intimidated) to find myself in his literature class.

 After his reading, I told him (true story) that  only time I ever received a grade of less than “A” on a paper in an english class in college was when I wrote about his poetry (for another professor).  His response was hilarious but unprintable.  

Here is another of his poems (my personal favorite): 

 For Jessica, My Daughter
by Mark Strand 

Tonight I walked,
close to the house,
and was afraid,
not of the winding course
that I have made of love and self
but of the dark and faraway.
I walked, hearing the wind
and feeling the cold,
but what I dwelled on
were the stars blazing
in the immense arc of sky.

Jessica, it is so much easier
to think of our lives,
as we move under the brief luster of leaves,
loving what we have,
than to think of how it is
such small beings as we
travel in the dark
with no visible way
or end in sight.

Yet there were times I remember
under the same sky
when the body’s bones became light
and the wound of the skull
opened to receive
the cold rays of the cosmos,
and were, for an instant,
themselves the cosmos,
there were times when I could believe
we were the children of stars
and our words were made of the same
dust that flames in space,
times when I could feel in the lightness of breath
the weight of a whole day
come to rest.

But tonight
it is different.
Afraid of the dark
in which we drift or vanish altogether,
I imagine a light
that would not let us stray too far apart,
a secret moon or mirror,
a sheet of paper,
something you could carry
in the dark
when I am away.

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