Sunday, December 07, 2014

"cloudless summer days seem infinite"

Wood ducks under the willow, stretching out autumn.


Now think of the weather and how it is rarely the same
For any two people, how when it is small, precision is needed
to say when it is really an aura or odor or even an air

Of certainty, or how, as the hours go by, it could be thought of
As large because of the number of people it touches.
Its strength is something else: tornados are small

But strong and cloudless summer days seem infinite
But tend to be weak since we don't mind being out in them.
Excuse me, is this the story of another exciting day,

The sort of thing that accompanies preparations for dinner?
Then what say we talk about the inaudible---the shapes it assumes,
And what social implications it holds,

Or the somber flourishes of autumn---the bright
or blighted leaves falling, the clicking of cold branches,
the new color of the sky, its random blue.

Mark Strand
Dark Harbor; a poem, Knopf, 1991, page 26.

Dark Harbor is a long poem of forty sections, slightly shorter or longer, but each fitting on one page. Each section is written in three-line stanzas, and is complete in itself, yet the whole coheres. Each line begins with a capital letter, giving the poem a slightly more formal look on the page. Harold Bloom has written a long essay in praise of this book. 

The whole book is full of beautiful phrases--in the poem above, for instance, there are many phrases that one could use to begin, or to title, another poem. The language is quite sober, even formal, which gives colloquialisms like "what say" a little extra wallop!

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