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Robert Bly: Harvard classmate to Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, George Plimpton and others

He‘s also well known for a leading figure in the “mythopoetic men’s movement”

  • Living at the End of Time
  • There is so much sweetness in children’s voices,
  • And so much discontent at the end of day,
  • And so much satisfaction when a train goes by.
  • I don’t know why the rooster keeps crying,
  • Nor why elephants keep raising their trunks,
  • Nor why Hawthorne kept hearing trains at night.
  • A handsome child is a gift from God,
  • And a friend is a vein in the back of the hand,
  • And a wound is an inheritance from the wind.
  • Some say we are living at the end of time,
  • But I believe a thousand pagan ministers
  • Will arrive tomorrow to baptize the wind.
  • There’s nothing we need to do about John. The Baptist
  • Has been laying his hands on earth for so long
  • That the well water is sweet for a hundred miles.
  • It’s all right if we don’t know what the rooster
  • Is saying in the middle of the night, nor why we feel
  • So much satisfaction when a train goes by.
  • A Month of Happiness
  • A blind horse stands among cherry trees.
  • And bones shine from cool earth.
  • The heart leaps
  • Almost up to the sky! But laments
  • And filaments pull us back into the dark.
  • Night takes us. But
  • A paw
  • Comes out of the dark
  • To light the road. I’ll be all right.
  • I follow my own fiery traces through the night. 
  • Waking from Sleep
  • Inside the veins there are navies setting forth
  • Tiny explosions at the water lines
  • And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood.
  • It is the morning. The country has slept the whole winter.
  • Window seats were covered with fur skins, the yard was full
  • Of stiff dogs and hands that clumsily held heavy books.
  • Now we wake and rise from bed and eat breakfast!—
  • Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood
  • Mist and masts rising the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.
  • Now we sing and do tiny dances on the kitchen floor.
  • Our whole body is like a harbor at dawn;
  • We know that our master has left us for the day.

Robert Bly

Robert Bly

Robert Bly (b. 1926) is an American poet also well known for a leading figure in the “mythopoetic men’s movement,” a self-improvement program for men popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Winner of the 1968 National Book Award, Bly is a Minnesota native and attended Harvard University as a student, after transferring from St. Olaf College in his home state. He became classmates at Harvard with fellow poets and writers Donald Hall (with whom he formed a lifelong friendship), Adrienne Rich, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and George Plimpton. Bly’s poetry is characterized by simple diction and direct presentation of imagery.

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