W.W. Norton & Company, 2011
Robert Bly's latest collection ranges in form from free verse to his own rendition of the ghazal.
In the title poem, Bly seems to be addressing poetry itself
when he writes
I have been talking into the ear of a donkey.
I have so much to say! And the donkey canít wait
To feel my breath stirring the immense oats
Of his ears
Bly's poems often feel essayistic in nature, expanding upon
a topic with emotional nuance and compelling sense of
authority. When confronting aging and the passage of time,
however, Bly expertly employs spareness and delicacy, understanding, as he points out in one poem, that "much subtlety is lost in explaining things." In the poem "So Much Time," Bly writes
Things move so
Slowly in the soul. It must be that we've
Already been grieving for a hundred years.
Old men and women know how much time
Can go by while praying. Let's not try
To cheer each other up. It's all right.
Jane Hirshfield notes that the collection is a "consummately beautiful and moving book," and longtime Bly fans will appreciate that the volume "carries the craft, wisdom, and gleaming image-hoard of a lifetime master."