Yesterday I went to go hear Robert Bly read from two of his recent volumes, one an anthology of his translations (The Winged Energy of Delight) and one a book of his own ghazal verses (My Sentence Was A Thousand Years Of Joy). He wore a colorful ornate silken jacket of asian origin and smiled a lot. Now seventy-eight years old, his head is crowned by a thick mass of white hairs, credentials of his humanity. What a beautiful man.
I'll just let him him speak through his poetry, and simply add that he moved me.
The Night Abraham Called to the Stars
Do you remember the night Abraham first saw
The stars? He cried to Saturn: "You are my Lord!"
How happy he was! When he saw the Dawn Star,
He cried, ""You are my Lord!" How destroyed he was
When he watched them set. Friends, he is like us:
We take as our Lord the stars that go down.
We are faithful companions to the unfaithful stars.
We are diggers, like badgers; we love to feel
The dirt flying out from behind our back claws.
And no one can convince us that mud is not
Beautiful. It is our badger soul that thinks so.
We are ready to spend the rest of our life
Walking with muddy shoes in the wet fields.
We resemble exiles in the kingdom of the serpent.
We stand in the onion fields looking up at the night.
My heart is a calm potato by day, and a weeping
Abandoned woman by night. Friend, tell me what to do,
Since I am a man in love with the setting stars.
He brought along some copies of a slender book of poems against the Iraq war he published called The Insanity of Empire, and gave one to me.
How cool is that?