The End

By Mark Strand b. 1934 Mark Strand
Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

“The End”, © 1990 by Mark Strand from The Continuous Life 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

Subjects Living, Death

 Mark  Strand

Biography

Mark Strand is recognized as one of the premier contemporary American poets 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 has spanned nearly four decades, and he has . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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