Unit – 3: Ecology and Environment
Chapter 4: Keeping Things Whole [Mark Strand]
‘Keeping Things Whole’ is about the conservation of ecology and the environment. Poet Mark Strand requests for wholeness. He is against the usual fragmentation, which is going on in everyday life. For strand, he is the absence of field, when he goes there. He always finds himself missing, wherever he goes. While walking, he divides the air.
When he goes forward, the air movers in to fill space, where his body had been before. Poet says that all have reasons to move, but he moves to keep things whole. This poem seems very simple on the surface but it has a deep symbolic meaning. Indirectly poet says that people are breaking the completeness of nature. It means that they are destroying the forest, using natural resources excessively.
By erecting (making) tall buildings, industries, and doing unnecessary infrastructural development, people are fragmenting (destroying) natural beauty. So, the poet suggests us to advocate for wholeness. By exposing the bitter reality of fragmentation, he requests us to conserve natural beauty.
Short Answer Questions
1. Interpret the poem “Keeping Things Whole” in a paragraph.
The short poem, “Keeping Things Whole”, a poem by Canadian Born poem Mark Strand can be interpreted in two different ways. One it treats the double-ness and darkness by which the human beings of today are living. The poem implicates that fragmentation and alienation can never guarantee our existence. Today’s man is the victim of this identity crisis. He/ she is accustomed to fragmenting things. The speaker in the poem does the same. In the field, in the air and where ever he goes he lives with the same problem by which he suffers a lot. He realizes that this cannot give him peace and comfort. With this realization, he urges us to move for harmony and wholeness.
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Another is the environmental interpretation. Nature seeks balance, not separation. Human beings on the other hand separate nature by being superior. The genesis of this superiority goes back to the bible where Adam is created by God to look after nature for himself. The individual of the poem is not far from his men centric outlooks. When he does so in the field ad in other areas, he misses himself instead. But on the other hand, air, one entity of nature, seeks an intact harmony by filling the gaps the speaker has created. The poet at the end thus indicates to the man-nature harmony by presenting the speaker who seeks the wholeness, after being the victim of his isolation.
2. Summarize the poem “Keeping things Whole”.
Refer to the above summary.