In Celebration

By Mark Strand 1934–2014 Mark Strand
You sit in a chair, touched by nothing, feeling   
the old self become the older self, imagining   
only the patience of water, the boredom of stone.   
You think that silence is the extra page,   
you think that nothing is good or bad, not even
the darkness that fills the house while you sit watching
it happen. You’ve seen it happen before. Your friends
move past the window, their faces soiled with regret.
You want to wave but cannot raise your hand.
You sit in a chair. You turn to the nightshade spreading
a poisonous net around the house. You taste   
the honey of absence. It is the same wherever   
you are, the same if the voice rots before   
the body, or the body rots before the voice.
You know that desire leads only to sorrow, that sorrow
leads to achievement which leads to emptiness.   
You know that this is different, that this   
is the celebration, the only celebration,   
that by giving yourself over to nothing,
you shall be healed. You know there is joy in feeling
your lungs prepare themselves for an ashen future,
so you wait, you stare and you wait, and the dust settles
and the miraculous hours of childhood wander in darkness.

Mark Strand, “In Celebration” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990)

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Poet Mark Strand 1934–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Time & Brevity, Living

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

 Mark  Strand

Biography

Mark Strand was recognized as one of the premier American poets of his generation as well as an accomplished editor, translator, and prose writer. The hallmarks of his style are precise language, surreal imagery, and the recurring theme of absence and negation; later collections investigate ideas of the self with pointed, often urbane wit. Named the U.S. Poet Laureate in 1990, Strand’s career spanned five decades, and he won . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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