Although it’s not a lengthy poem, the few words and their layout in “Keeping Things Whole” certainly possess great significance. This poem is centered on the idea that the narrator’s life is lacking purpose. In exploring the meaning of his existence, he determined that his reason for living was to keep moving so that people’s lives were only temporarily interrupted.
Strand’s technique of splitting up his sentences helps emphasize certain phrases and ideas. When I read poetry I naturally pause for a brief second at the end of each line to allow the words to sink in, therefore taking an extra moment to realize what the author is saying. With each line in this poem only a few words long, there is a higher pause-to-word ratio, which allows for more thought for each idea the first time you read through it. Strand splits up the sentences in places where he is trying to convey more meaning, with the hope that the reader will pause and contemplate what was just read. His stanzas are concluded when he wants more attention placed on his current idea.Order now
The narrator’s viewpoint towards life in this poem is quite different from how most people see it. Where he writes, “In a field / I am the absence / of field.” ll. 1-3 instead of acknowledging his existence as something, he regards it as a lack of something. This negativity towards himself is what the entire poem is focused on.
He uses the idea that when his body enters an area the parts of that area are momentarily interrupted and are forced around him, just waiting to return back to normal once he leaves: “When I walk / I part the air / and always / the air moves in / to fill the spaces / where my body’s been.” ll. 8-13 The “air” in that line symbolizes the existence of other people around him, and the narrator sees himself as a nuisance to those people, always being in the way. He is saying that whenever he enters into a location with a bunch of people, those people see him as a bother and simply as something that they must put up with for a little while. They can’t wait for the narrator to leave so that they don’t have to put up with him anymore and can therefore return to what they were doing.
The last stanza explains the narrator’s reason for “moving,” or in other words living: “I move / to keep things whole.” ll. 16 & 17 He understands that he must keep moving and going on with his life even though he is interrupting the existence and paths of others. When I read those last two lines I felt a sense of saddened acceptance of life in the narrator’s speech.
Since he concluded that his existence was unnecessary and bothersome, the only way he can continue in his monotonous life is by continually moving around, so that he disturbs everyone’s lives equally and doesn’t become too much of a bother in one place. With that mindset, the narrator believes that his absence is what keeps things whole.