Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Remains

The Remains
I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.
What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.
My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.
Mark Strand
In this poem by Mark Strand, the narrator discusses his worldly situation. He forgets the names of people he knows, emptying his pockets then leaving his shoes by the side of the road. At night when it’s easier to make believe, he turns back his clocks and looks at old family albums, trying to pretend that time is not passing by and that he will have control over the passing of hours and days and years. He says his own name and says goodbye, watching them fall away into nothing because they are not material and cannot stand the test of time without something real to hold on to. He loves his wife, but she will not last much longer than he and therefore cannot anchor him to this world very proficiently. His parents have already risen
to heaven. However, he knows that he is defined by time, as is everything else in the world.There is a lot of emptiness in this poem. He empties his head of
people’s names, empties his pockets and his shoes and then in the end
he empties himself of his life, but parts of him still remain. This idea of emptiness with a physical remainder is consistant throughout the entire poem. That seems to be how a lot of things in life are. You cast off clothes and the still remain even if not in the context of being on your body. You get rid of a car and its still a car, but you don’t drive it anymore. You die but your physical body remains and when that rots away only the memory of what you were, if there is a way that is preserved, still exists.

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