Mark Strand

So You Say

It is all in the mind, you say, and has
nothing to do with happiness. The coming of cold,
the coming of heat, the mind has all the time in the world.
I wish the bottom of things were not so far away.

You take my arm and say something will happen,
something unusual for which we were always prepared,
like the sun arriving after a day in Asia,
like the moon departing after a night with us.

Note: “So You Say” has been published as a single-stanza, seven-line poem in a variety of online and academic references, sans the line “I wish the bottom of things were not so far away.” The seven line version can be found in Selected Poems (1981). The version shared here is from the first edition of The Late Hour  (1978) and matches the version published in Collected Poems (2014). Does the revision that appears in Selected reflect Strand’s concern that the line is too connected with Rilke’s poem “Lament”? Rilke was a favorite of Strand’s, though there is certainly no ‘sampling’ going on here (or as contemporary poets would say, it is not a “cento”). This revision also coincides with Strand’s stylistic evolution of eliminating stanzas in favor of single blocks. That the Collected Poems returns to the original could be a desire to reproduce the first edition books to the letter–or that Strand decided that he preferred the eight-line, two-stanza version after all. Such are the questions that haunt my waking hours.  –PR

Dark Hour06012016