Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Norwegian-American poetry: Robert Bly

When I was an English Lit major, not too long before I switched to history, it was poetry that captured my imagination, ranking alongside Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, and other writers of well-known classics. Years ago, I went through a period of writing poetry: a time when every coat and sweater pocket contained torn bits of paper with scribbled phrases, fleeting descriptions, and seldom captured words. I even had the great privilege to take a class with Nelson Bentley, one of the University of Washington's most respected and beloved poets and professors. But, it was during a period of my life when misery was too close to the skin's surface for comfort, and although mooning around made better than usual poetry, I could no longer create quite the same when my mood lifted.

I have not lost my awe of poetry, and I wanted to share my recent discovery.

Robert Bly, an American icon now in his 80s, was born in Minnesota to Norwegian-American parents, and attended St. Olaf College and Harvard. His poetry illicits movement and hidden possibilities, like harvest soil crumbling rich through the fingers or crystalline sapphire waters surging at the head of the Mississippi.

Poet Robert Bly Gives Voice to Men's Movement

Earlier this month, a close family member of mine passed away, and when I read this November poem by Robert Bly, it seemed to capture perfectly the mixture of change, loss, and chilling beauty that is late autumn.

Excerpt from "Solitude Late at Night in the Woods"

The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

My last walk in the trees has come.
At dawn I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter...


and because I can't resist, here's one for those of us emeshed in genealogy and family history, especially during the Christmas season:

Excerpt from "Driving my Parents Home at Christmas"

As I drive my parents home through the snow
their frailty hesitates on the edge of a mountainside.
I call over the cliff,

only snow answers...


Intrigued by Robert Bly? So am I! You can learn more about him at: Robert Bly, American Poet

1 comment:

Lisa / Smallest Leaf said...

Thanks for sharing the poetry of Robert Bly. The imagery is amazing and very thought-provoking.