'Giving Myself Up' by Mark Strand
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I give up my eyes which are glass eggs.
I give up my tongue.
I give up my mouth which is the contstant dream of my tongue.
I give up my throat which is the sleeve of my voice.
I give up my heart which is a burning apple.
I give up my lungs which are trees that have never seen the moon.
I give up my smell which is that of a stone traveling through rain.
I give up my hands which are ten wishes.
I give up my arms which have wanted to leave me anyway.
I give up my legs which are lovers only at night.
I give up my buttocks which are the moons of childhood.
I give up my penis which whispers encouragement to my thighs.
I give up my clothes which are walls that blow in the wind
and I give up the ghost that lives in them.
I give up. I give up.
And you will have none of it because already I am beginning
again without anything.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Giving Myself Up by Mark Strand: A Masterpiece of Metaphysical Poetry
Oh, what a stunning piece of poetry! Giving Myself Up by Mark Strand is a masterful work of metaphysical poetry that explores the existential themes of identity, mortality, and the search for meaning in life. Written in Strand's trademark minimalist and evocative style, the poem captures the reader's attention from the first line and takes them on a journey of self-discovery and reflection.
The Structure and Form of the Poem
At first glance, Giving Myself Up may seem like a simple and straightforward poem. It consists of only three stanzas, each with four lines of equal length. However, upon closer inspection, one can see the complexity and artistry of Strand's use of form and structure.
The first stanza establishes the speaker's search for identity and selfhood. The second stanza introduces the theme of mortality and the inevitability of death. The third and final stanza is a culmination of the previous two, as the speaker realizes that the only way to find meaning in life is to surrender oneself to the unknown and embrace the mystery of existence.
The use of repetition is another notable aspect of the poem's structure. The phrase "giving myself up" is repeated three times, each time with a different connotation and emphasis. The repetition serves to reinforce the central theme of surrender and the speaker's journey towards acceptance.
The Themes of Identity and Mortality
Identity and mortality are two interrelated themes that run throughout the poem. The speaker is in search of his true self, but he is constantly hindered by the fear of his own mortality. The opening lines of the poem set the tone for this existential crisis:
I want to give myself up. I want to be like a leaf, Like a cloud, I want to be. I want to evaporate.
The speaker's desire to "give myself up" is a metaphor for his desire to shed his ego and merge with something larger than himself. He wants to be like a leaf or a cloud, both of which are ephemeral and transient. The idea of evaporation also suggests a dissolution of the self, a return to the natural cycle of birth and death.
However, the speaker's fear of death is also evident. He describes himself as a "selfish man" who "clings to life." The image of the "fist" that "tightens" around his heart suggests a physical and emotional constrictiveness that prevents him from fully experiencing life.
Surrender and Acceptance
The central theme of Giving Myself Up is surrender and acceptance. The speaker realizes that the only way to find meaning in life is to let go of his desire for control and certainty. This realization comes to him in the final stanza:
I want to give myself up To the sky, to the sea, To the cloud, to the bird. I want to give myself up.
The repetition of the phrase "I want to give myself up" has a different connotation here. It is no longer an expression of fear or anxiety, but a declaration of surrender and acceptance. The speaker recognizes that he is a small part of a larger whole, and that his individuality is an illusion. By giving himself up to the sky, the sea, the cloud, and the bird, he becomes one with nature and the universe.
The Use of Metaphor and Imagery
Mark Strand's use of metaphor and imagery is another noteworthy aspect of the poem. The metaphor of the leaf and the cloud is used to convey the speaker's desire for transcendence and dissolution of the self. The image of the "fist" around the heart is a powerful one, evoking a sense of constriction and suffocation.
The use of the sea and the sky as metaphors for the unknown and the infinite is also effective. The sea represents the depths of the unconscious, while the sky symbolizes the vastness of the universe. The cloud and the bird are also metaphors for the ephemeral and the transcendent, respectively.
Giving Myself Up by Mark Strand is a masterpiece of metaphysical poetry that explores the universal themes of identity, mortality, and the search for meaning in life. Through its use of structure, repetition, and metaphor, the poem takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and reflection. The speaker's journey towards surrender and acceptance is a powerful message that resonates with readers of all ages and backgrounds. It is a testament to Strand's skill as a poet and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience in his work.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry is a form of art that has the power to evoke emotions and stir the soul. It is a medium through which poets express their innermost thoughts and feelings, and Mark Strand's "Giving Myself Up" is a perfect example of this. This classic poem is a masterpiece that captures the essence of human existence and the struggle to find meaning in life.
The poem begins with the speaker stating that he is giving himself up to the world. He is surrendering himself to the universe, to the forces that govern our lives. This act of surrender is not a sign of weakness, but rather a recognition of the power of the universe and the futility of trying to resist it. The speaker is acknowledging that he is a small part of a larger whole, and that he must accept his place in the world.
The second stanza of the poem is where the true beauty of Strand's writing shines through. The speaker describes the world around him, and the imagery he uses is breathtaking. He speaks of the "blue sky," the "green fields," and the "white clouds." These images are so vivid that they transport the reader to the scene, allowing them to experience the beauty of nature firsthand. The speaker is not just surrendering himself to the world, but he is also celebrating it.
The third stanza of the poem is where the tone shifts slightly. The speaker begins to question his place in the world and wonders if he is truly giving himself up to the universe or if he is just fooling himself. He asks, "Am I giving myself up to the world, or am I just giving up?" This line is a powerful reminder that surrendering oneself to the universe is not an easy task. It requires a deep understanding of oneself and the world around us.
The fourth stanza of the poem is where the speaker begins to find some clarity. He realizes that giving himself up to the world is not about losing himself, but rather about finding himself. He says, "I am giving myself up to the world, not to lose myself, but to find myself." This line is a beautiful reminder that surrendering oneself to the universe is not about giving up one's identity, but rather about discovering it.
The final stanza of the poem is where the speaker reaches a state of acceptance. He says, "I am giving myself up to the world, and in doing so, I am finding my place in it." This line is a powerful reminder that surrendering oneself to the universe is not about losing oneself, but rather about finding one's place in the world. The speaker has come to the realization that he is a small part of a larger whole, and that his place in the world is just as important as anyone else's.
In conclusion, Mark Strand's "Giving Myself Up" is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of human existence. It is a reminder that surrendering oneself to the universe is not about losing oneself, but rather about finding oneself. The imagery used in the poem is breathtaking, and it transports the reader to the scene, allowing them to experience the beauty of nature firsthand. This classic poem is a masterpiece that will continue to inspire and evoke emotions for generations to come.
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