Robert Bly

R
Robert Bly
Why We Don’t Die
In late September many voices
Tell you you will die.
That leaf says it, that coolness.
All of them are right.

Our many souls—what
Can they do about it?
Nothing. They’re already
Part of the invisible.
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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.
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Ravens Hiding in a Shoe
There is something men and women living in houses
Don’t understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman’s shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.
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The Fat Old Couple Whirling Around
The drum says that the night we die will be a long night.
It says the children have time to play. Tell the grownups
They can pull the curtains around the bed tonight.

The old man wants to know how the war ended.
The young girl wants her breasts to cause the sun to rise.
The thinker wants to keep misunderstanding alive.

It’s all right if the earthly monk is buried near the altar.
It’s all right if the singer fails to turn up for her concert.
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For the Old Gnostics
The Fathers put their trust in the end of the world
And they were wrong.The Gnostics were right and not
Right.Dragons copulate with their knobby tails.
Some somnolent wealth rises unconcerned,
Over there!In the world!Ponderous stubborn
Sorrow weighs down the flying Gospels.
Some enormous obstacle blocks our way.
The untempered soul grumbles in empty light.
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Wanting Sumptuous Heavens
No one grumbles among the oyster clans,
And lobsters play their bone guitars all summer.
Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want
Heaven to be, and God to come, again.
There is no end to our grumbling; we want
Comfortable earth and sumptuous Heaven.
But the heron standing on one leg in the bog
Drinks his dark rum all day, and is content.
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Seeing the Eclipse in Maine
It started about noon. On top of Mount Batte,
We were all exclaiming. Someone had a cardboard
And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun
Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.

It was hard to believe. The high school teacher
We’d met called it a pinhole camera,
People in the Renaissance loved to do that.
And when the moon had passed partly through
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Prayer for My Father
Your head is still
restless, rolling
east and west.
That body in you
insisting on living
is the old hawk
for whom the world
darkens.
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Driving toward the Lac Qui Parle River
I
I am driving; it is dusk; Minnesota.
The stubble field catches the last growth of sun.
The soybeans are breathing on all sides.
Old men are sitting before their houses on car seats
In the small towns. I am happy,
The moon rising above the turkey sheds.

II
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Waking from Sleep
Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
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,
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Driving West in 1970
My dear children, do you remember the morning
When we climbed into the old Plymouth
And drove west straight toward the Pacific?

We were all the people there were.
We followed Dylan's songs all the way west.
It was Seventy; the war was over, almost;

And we were driving to the sea.
We had closed the farm, tucked in
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