"Lines for Winter" - Mark Strand

"Lines for Winter" - Mark Strand

for Ros Krauss

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

Mark Strand (1934-2014) spent the decade after the publication of Selected Poems [1980] not writing poetry. Strand admitted that “I gave up [writing poems] that year. I didn’t like what I was writing, I didn’t believe in my autobiographical poems.” He turned to other forms of writing instead, including children’s literature with The Planet of Lost Things (1982). As with his poetry, Strand focused on questions of loss, using the story to address the common childhood worry about where things go when they are lost. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States and taught at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Chicago, and Columbia University. He died in late 2014 at the age of 80. 

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