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Keeping Things Whole

Keeping Things Whole

by Mark Strand

Keeping Things Whole Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What is the effect of the super short lines in this poem? How do line breaks and enjambment help shape the way we read this poem? 
  2. Is this poem about presence, absence, or both? 
  3. What does the speaker mean when he says, "I move / to keep things whole"? Do you think he has a fear of staying still? Why or why not? 
  4. How does the speaker use repetition in this poem to complicate the meaning of his poem? How does repeating words in such a short poem embody the speaker's self-reflective nature? 
  5. How would this poem change if it were written in a traditional form instead of free verse? How does the form, or formlessness, of the poem shape how we understand what the speaker is saying? 
  6. Is this a hopeful poem in any way?

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