The Monday Poem: ‘Harmony in the Boudoir’ by Mark Strand

The Monday Poem is brought to you by Professor Jim Gormley of the English Department. Enjoy!

Harmony in the Boudoir
by Mark Strand

After years of marriage, he stands at the foot of the bed and
tells his wife that she will never know him, that for everything
he says there is more that he does not say, that behind each
word he utters there is another word, and hundreds more be-
hind that one. All those unsaid words, he says, contain his true
self, which has been betrayed by the superficial self before her.
“So you see,” he says, kicking off his slippers, “I am more than
what I have led you to believe I am.” “Oh, you silly man,” says
his wife, “of course you are. I find that just thinking of you
having so many selves receding into nothingness is very excit-
ing. That you barely exist as you are couldn’t please me more.”

Mark Strand was born on Canada’s Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934. He received a BA from Antioch College in Ohio in 1957 and attended Yale University, where he was awarded the Cook prize and the Bergin prize. After receiving his BFA degree in 1959, Strand spent a year studying at the University of Florence on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1962 he received his MA from the University of Iowa.

His honors included the Bollingen Prize, a Rockefeller Foundation award, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the 2004 Wallace Stevens Award, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1979, the 1974 Edgar Allen Poe Prize from the Academy of American Poets, as well as fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

He served as poet laureate of the United States from 1990 to 1991 and as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1995 to 2000. He taught English and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York City. He died at eighty years old on November 29, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York.