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Advent Poetry Calendar – Day 14

ADVENT DAY 1412 Days Till Christmas

“Lines for Winter” by Mark Strand
Introduced by Garrison Keillor
Read by Mary Louise Parker
Submitted by Joanne Quinn

Joanne Quinn is the Team Leader for Communication & Service Promotion at Falvey Memorial Library. Joanne was kind enough to submit this poem and the story of how she came to find it: “A sleepless night led to a serendipitous discovery of an NYPL produced podcast of a conversation between Jessica Strand and her father, poet laureate Mark Strand. Their familial banter and his humor drew me in, and I chuckled when he oomphed over the hefty pages of his collected works, Collected Poems, published last month. Strand died Thanksgiving weekend at the age of 80.

When I pulled myself out of bed, I Googled Strand and found this poem. I don’t know about you, but in the year-ending swirl of tests and reviews and finals and navel-gazing, it was just what I needed to hear. I wonder, and hope, that at my life’s end, I’ll too be oomphing over the heft of my own collected works.”

You can access the podcast Joanne references here.

Read by Mary Louise Parker:


“Lines for Winter”
By Mark Strand

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon’s gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.


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Last Modified: December 13, 2014