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About this poet

Robert Bly was born on December 23, 1926, in Madison, Minnesota. He attended Harvard University and received his M.A. from the University of Iowa in 1956. As a poet, editor, and translator, Bly has had a profound impact on the shape of American poetry.

He is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, including Stealing Sugar from the Castle: Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2013); Talking into the Ear of a Donkey: Poems (2011); Reaching Out to the World: New and Selected Prose Poems (White Pine Press, 2009); My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (2006); The Night Abraham Called to the Stars (2001); Snowbanks North of the House (1999); Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (1987); This Body is Made of Camphor and Gopherwood (1977); and The Light Around the Body (1967), which won the National Book Award.

As the editor of the magazine The Sixties (begun as The Fifties), Bly introduced many unknown European and South American poets to an American audience. He is also the editor of numerous collections including (Beacon Press, 2007); Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (2004); The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures (1995); Leaping Poetry (1975); The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men (1992); News of the Universe (1980); and A Poetry Reading Against the Vietnam War (1967). Among his many books of translations are Lorca and Jiminez: Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 1997); Machado's Times Alone: Selected Poems (1983); The Kabir Book (1977); Friends, You Drank Some Darkness: Three Swedish Poets—Martinson, Ekeloef, and Transtromer (1975); and Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems (1971).

Bly is also the author of a number of nonfiction books, including The Sibling Society (Addison-Wesley, 1996); The Spirit Boy and the Insatiable Soul (1994); Iron John: A Book about Men (1990); and Talking All Morning: Collected Conversations and Interviews (1980).

His honors include Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as The Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

He lives on a farm in the western part of Minnesota with his wife and three children.

The Sympathies of the Long Married

Robert Bly, 1926
Oh well, let's go on eating the grains of eternity.
What do we care about improvements in travel?
Angels sometimes cross the river on old turtles.

Shall we worry about who gets left behind?
That one bird flying through the clouds is enough.
Your sweet face at the door of the house is enough.

The two farm horses stubbornly pull the wagon.
The mad crows carry away the tablecloth.
Most of the time, we live through the night.

Let's not drive the wild angels from our door.
Maybe the mad fields of grain will move.
Maybe the troubled rocks will learn to walk.

It's all right if we're troubled by the night.
It's all right if we can't recall our own name.
It's all right if this rough music keeps on playing.

I've given up worrying about men living alone.
I do worry about the couple who live next door.
Some words heard through the screen door are enough.

From Talking into the Ear of a Donkey, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2011 by Robert Bly. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Talking into the Ear of a Donkey, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2011 by Robert Bly. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Robert Bly

Robert Bly

Robert Bly was born on December 23, 1926, in Madison, Minnesota.

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