Class 11 | The Magic of Words
Keeping things whole
Writer: Mark Strand
The poem Keeping Things Whole is taken from Selected Poems (1980). The poet pleads for wholeness against the usual fragmentation that goes on in life. The poet believes in whole part and not in partial. He knows the value of each and every part of nature to present nature as a whole. He tries to know the value of each and every small and small constituents of nature to continue the wholeness of nature. The poet indirectly pleads human beings to fill the gaps in nature if they separate the parts of nature. The poet indirectly pleads human beings to keep nature whole by conserving its every small part in every small part in every nook and corner.
The poem deals with two separate things of anything, which are part and whole. Nature has small parts. It is divided into separate elements. He has lost himself in the field. He is losing himself everywhere. The poet parts the air forward but it becomes whole behind him. He only makes the air whole, not a part. But everything becomes whole itself. We see the field, air, etc as a part, not as a complete. Our lives are also parted but it is only an illusion. If we try to make separate parts, that is the only hollowness of concept.
The poet has presented himself in the field missing and parting in the air and he is whole not part in the bank drop. He wants to be whole, not part. He is not happy with himself because he is an intruder in the natural environment. He feels that he is fragmenting, disturbing and damaging the natural wholeness that is why air moves to fill the spaces occupied by his body while he walks. He becomes careful not to disturb the wholeness of things in the environment. This shows his concern about the protection of the environment.
The poet suggests that if a human being involves encouraging the existence of nature, nature also gives a reaction. For example, if we cut down the forest, land erosion, flood, landslides occur. Then, men get knowledge from the nature that nature itself is powerful rather from human beings. Even if a man tries to challenge the existence of nature, he can’t get victory over it. So, the poet becomes very much sensitive for the delicate balance of nature.
The last stanza suggests that we all move to make a whole, not part. The poet moves forward and he parts the air but it becomes whole again. So, what we think of being parted i.e; that is wrong. Everything in the world is whole.
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
I move to keep things whole.
Important Questions & Answers:
1. Interpret the poem “Keeping Things Whole.” Or, Write the central idea of the poem.
Ans: We human beings move from one place to another place to fulfil our purpose. We all have our own purposes for moving. When we move from one place to another place, we divide the air but the air moves in to fulfil the place from where we have gone through. Similarly, we become absent in the place which we leave. According to the poet this happiness all the time in our life, we try to do wholeness/completeness but everything remains incomplete. When we solve one problem, other problems move in like air moves in. In the same way, we find something missing in the first place when we go to another place.
Some Important Questions For Practice:
- Give your interpretation of the poem “Keeping Things Whole”.
- Summarize the poem “Keeping Things Whole” in a paragraph.
- How does the poet view himself in the field, in the air and in the backdrop?