The Idea

By Mark Strand b. 1934 Mark Strand

for Nolan Miller

For us, too, there was a wish to possess
Something beyond the world we knew, beyond ourselves,
Beyond our power to imagine, something nevertheless
In which we might see ourselves; and this desire
Came always in passing, in waning light, and in such cold
That ice on the valley’s lakes cracked and rolled,
And blowing snow covered what earth we saw,
And scenes from the past, when they surfaced again,
Looked not as they had, but ghostly and white
Among false curves and hidden erasures;
And never once did we feel we were close
Until the night wind said, “Why do this,
Especially now? Go back to the place you belong;”
And there appeared , with its windows glowing, small,
In the distance, in the frozen reaches, a cabin;
And we stood before it, amazed at its being there,
And would have gone forward and opened the door,
And stepped into the glow and warmed ourselves there,
But that it was ours by not being ours,
And should remain empty. That was the idea.

“The Idea,” from The Continuous Life: Poems by Mark Strand, © 1990 by Mark Strand. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Continuous Life: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990)

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Poet Mark Strand b. 1934

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Relationships, Love, Men & Women, Nature, Winter

Poetic Terms Free Verse