Keeping Things Whole: Mark Strand - Summary and Critical Analysis

The poem Keeping Things Whole deals with two separate things; part and whole. It illustrates the fact that parts are essential to make the unifying nature of whole. The nature has smaller parts which can be divided into the separate elements. The poet has lost himself in the field.


Mark Strand

He parts the air forward but it becomes whole behind him. It is very hard to dissect the nature because they cannot remain isolated from the whole. 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.

The poem Keeping Things Whole by Mark Strand is taken from Selected Poems (1980). In this poem poet does not find himself in the field. He finds that he is missing there. He thinks he divides the air when he walks. He wants to keep thing whole, not as parts. The poet desires for wholeness against the usual fragmentation that goes on in life in this poem. He believes in whole but not in part (partial). He knows the value of each and every part of nature to present nature as whole or complete. In this poem the poet has tried to know the value of each and every small constituent of natural elements and its meaningful existence in making the whole nature. The poet indirectly pleads human beings to fulfill the gaps in the nature if they are separated or broken to make them complete and meaningful.

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 walks. He becomes careful not to disturb the wholeness of things in the environment. This shows his concern for the protection of the environment.

The poet suggests that if human being involves themselves to encourage the existence of the nature, the nature also gives reaction. For example, if we cut down the forest, land erosion, flood, and landslides occur. Then, men get knowledge from the nature that the nature itself is more powerful than human beings. Even if a man tries to challenge the existence of the nature, he can’t get victory over it. So, the poet becomes very much sensitive to 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 he parts the air but it becomes whole again. So it is impossible to divide the natural elements and natural properties from each other. They are forcefully mingled with each other like the magnetic force to equalize the natural beauty and environment. This complete whole or togetherness can be the best example of being unified to develop the sense of brotherhood for these challenging global disputes among various issues to all human beings from the entire world.



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