Keeping Things Whole
Mark Strand is a Canadian- born poet, educated in the US. He has taught at various universities. His poems of alienation, treating darkness and double characteristics in man, are minimalist in style and affected by surrealism. ‘Keeping Things Whole’ taken from his selected poems (1980) pleads for wholeness against the usual fragmentation that goes on in life.
The poet is in the field, but in abstract form. He is fully absent from his own concrete form. Whenever he is, he is himself missing. It is a truth of living things and of non-living things. When he walks, he parts the air, but the air fills the gap space immediately. Everything is moving, and everything moves to keep things whole. The poet moves with temporary fragmentation only to keep things whole. Here, the poet believes in whole part not in partial. He knows the value of each and every part of nature to present nature as whole. He tries to know the value of each and every small and small constituents of nature to continue the wholeness of nature. The poet indirectly pleads human beings to fill the gaps in the nature if they separate the parts of the nature. He pleads human beings to keep nature whole by conserving its every small part in every hook and corner.
The poet deals with two separate things of anything, which are part and whole. The nature has small parts. It is divided into the separate elements. He has lost himself in the field. He is losing himself everywhere. The poet parts the air forward but it becomes whole behind him. He only makes the air whole, not a part. So, everything becomes whole itself. We see field, air, etc as a part not as complete. Our lives are also parted but it is only illusion. If we try to make separate parts, that is only hollowness of concept.
The poet has presented himself in the field missing and parting in the air and he is whole not part in the bank drop. He wants to be whole, not part. He is not happy with himself because he is an intruder in the natural environment. He feels that he is fragmenting, disturbing and damaging the natural wholeness that is why air moves to fill the spaces occupied by his body while he is walking. He becomes careful not to disturb the wholeness of things in the environment. This shows his concern to the protection of environment.
The poet suggests that if human being involves encouraging the existence of the nature, the nature also gives reaction. For example, if we cut down the forest, land erosion, flood land occur Then men get knowledge from the nature that the nature itself is powerful rather than human beings. Even if man tries to challenge the existence of the nature, he can’t get victory over it. So, the poet becomes very much sensitive for the delicate balance of the nature.
The last stanza suggests that we all move to make a whole, not part. The poet moves forward and the air but it becomes whole again. So, what we think of being parted that is wrong. Everything in the World is whole.