Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Continuous Life

My stomach has been bothering me all day, and I'm skipping class tonight.

So, for something completely different, here is a wonderful poem about being a parent and a human being; I suppose it is also about middle age, since that's generally when you're raising children. It has absolutely nothing to do with martial arts.

I discovered this poem inscribed on a children's fountain in Manhattan a number of years back when I was having a terrible day and went for a walk.

The author is Mark Strand; the book it appears in has the same title as the poem, "The Continuous Life."

Here's a link to the Amazon page with the book:

And here's the poem, from

The Continuous Life

What of the neighborhood homes awash
In a silver light, of children hunched 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.

"The Continuous Life (Poem Text)." Notes on Poetry. Answers Corporation, 2006. 17 Sep. 2009.


Jeanne said...

Beautiful, Bob, beautiful.

BobSpar said...

Thanks, Jeanne!