Cover image for The continuous life : poems
The continuous life : poems
Strand, Mark, 1934-2014.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1990.
Physical Description:
63 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3569.T69 C6 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In his Prize-winning collection, Strand's poems are filled with portent and authority, but many are also, unexpectedly, even miraculously, funny. A celebrity poet pulls up in a limousine to cheers of adulation; a lone dog contemplates philosophy. The poem The Delirium Waltz is actually physically dizzying in its simple splendor and formal virtuosity -- the lines keep repeating, transposed, creating new meanings and the sensation of spinning and dancing -- it also incorporates the many personalities who have been a part of Strand's community of fellow poets.These poems are remote and completely accessible, surreal yet grounded. Like Edward Hopper's paintings, to which his work has frequently been compared, Strand's poems explore a still, mournful universe where love and words and the mundane and the miraculous sit side by side, waiting. And then, a single snowflake lands, holding the complexity of yet another universe within, and melts on the arm of a chair: A Piece of the StormFrom the shadow of domes in the city of domes, A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your roomAnd made its way to the ann of the chair where you, looking upFrom your book, saw it the moment it landed. That's allThere was to it. No more than a solemn wakingTo brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly, A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than thatExcept for the feeling that this piece of the storm, Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back, That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say: It's time. The air is ready. The sky has an openings.

Author Notes

Mark Strand was born on April 11, 1934 in Summerside on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Since his father's job resulted in many transfers, he spent his childhood in Cleveland, Halifax, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia and his teenage years in Colombia, Mexico and Peru. He received a bachelor's degree at Antioch College in Ohio in 1957, a bachelor of fine arts in painting from Yale University School of Art and Architecture in 1959, and a master of fine arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1962. He studied 19th-century Italian poetry in Florence on a Fulbright Grant from 1960-1961.

His first poetry collection, Sleeping with One Eye Open, was published in 1964. His other works included Reasons for Moving, Darker, The Story of Our Lives, The Late Hour, A Continuous Life, Dark Harbor, and Collected Poems: Mark Strand. In 1990, he was named the fourth Poet Laureate of the United States. He received the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1993 and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for Blizzard of One.

In 1980, he felt that he had reached an impasse and stopped writing poetry for several years. During that time, he wrote several children's books including The Planet of Lost Things and Mr. and Mrs. Baby. He also wrote books on the painters EdwardHopper and William Bailey, and a collection of critical essays entitled The Art of the Real. He died of liposarcoma on November 29, 2014 at the age of 80.

(Bowker Author Biography) Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Strand was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada, and was raised and educated in the United States and South America. He is the author of a book of stories, "Mr. and Mrs. Baby", several volumes of translations (Rafael Alberti and Carlos Drummond de Andrade among them), a number of anthologies (most recently "The Golden Ecco Anthology") and several monographs on contemporary artists (William Bailey and Edward Hopper). He has received many honors and grants for his poems, including a MacArthur Fellowship, and in 1990 he was chosen as Poet Laureate of the United States. He teaches in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

(Publisher Provided) Mark Strand's collection "Blizzard of One" was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Strand's selection as the nation's Poet Laureate brings renewed attention to his work. The Continuous Life is his first collection of new poems in 10 years; its publication coincides with a new edition of his Selected Poems, which first appeared in 1980.The latter remains an excellent choice for public libraries. A magical realist in verse, he transforms the everyday into peculiar moral fables: guilt becomes a dirty hand caked with a "sad dirt / made of sickness / and human anguish," which must be cut off; literature is so nourishing that, "ink runs from the corners of my mouth . . . / I have been eating poetry." Despite its glassy brilliance, however, Strand's work is often bleak, painting the body as a prison of memory: "A scar remembers the wound. / The wound remembers the pain. / Once more you are crying." These poems reveal a yearning toward death that takes constant effort to outwit, for "in that final flowing of cold through your limbs . . . you love what you are." Strand's recent work, in The Continuous Life, is lighter, often playful, especially his prose-poem explorations (a sestina with no line breaks!) and classical ecologues. If you can acquire only one, though, select the richer, more profound Selected Poems. ~--Pat Monaghan

Library Journal Review

Published simultaneously‘though the Selected Poems is an update of a 1980 edition‘these two books reveal a "laconic, surreal vision" (LJ 11/1/90). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Continuous Life What of the neighborhood homes awash In a silver light, of children crouched in the bushes, Watching the grown-ups for signs of surrender, Signs that the irregular pleasures of moving From day to day, of being adrift on the swell of duty, Have run their course? Oh parents, confess To your little ones the night is a long way off And your taste for the mundane grows; tell them Your worship of household chores has barely begun; Describe the beauty of shovels and rakes, brooms and mops; Say there will always be cooking and cleaning to do, That one thing leads to another, which leads to another; Explain that you live between two great darks, the first With an ending, the second without one, that the luckiest Thing is having been born, that you live in a blur Of hours and days, months and years, and believe It has meaning, despite the occasional fear You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing To prove you existed. Tell the children to come inside, That your search goes on for something you lost--a name, A family album that fell from its own small matter Into another, a piece of the dark that might have been yours, You don't really know. Say that each of you tries To keep busy, learning to lean down close and hear The careless breathing of earth and feel its available Languor come over you, wave after wave, sending Small tremors of love through your brief, Undeniable selves, into your days, and beyond. Excerpted from The Continuous Life by Mark Strand All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.