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The latest collection of poems by the acclaimed author of Iron John. In this first gathering of all-new work in nine years, Bly enters the political landscape, speaking of the greed that has firmly established itself in this country since the Reagan/Bush years.


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The latest collection of poems by the acclaimed author of Iron John. In this first gathering of all-new work in nine years, Bly enters the political landscape, speaking of the greed that has firmly established itself in this country since the Reagan/Bush years.

30 review for Meditations On The Insatiable Soul: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    mwpm mwpm

    The collection is divided into four parts. The first part is remarkable for its tributes to poets James Wright, Kenneth Rexroth (in "Letter to James Wright"), Wallace Stevens (in "Wallace Stevens and Florence"), William Stafford (in "On the Oregon Coast" and "When William Stafford Died"), and non-poet Joseph Campbell (in "Honoring Sand")... My dear James, do you know that nothing has happened Since you died? Ammons is still writing garbage, And the Maximus Poems are back in print. "Well, I am tired O The collection is divided into four parts. The first part is remarkable for its tributes to poets James Wright, Kenneth Rexroth (in "Letter to James Wright"), Wallace Stevens (in "Wallace Stevens and Florence"), William Stafford (in "On the Oregon Coast" and "When William Stafford Died"), and non-poet Joseph Campbell (in "Honoring Sand")... My dear James, do you know that nothing has happened Since you died? Ammons is still writing garbage, And the Maximus Poems are back in print. "Well, I am tired Of the lost maples of heaven; I want news Of the living, of you." Rexroth is gone. He was one of the Funniest men in the world, and he got a biographer With no sense pf humor. "I remember Rexroth saying, 'I'll cold-cock Santa Clause if he comes near.' It's the least An anarchist can do. Eisenhower couldn't find The Brazilian flag if it were up his butt."... - Letter to James Wright (pg. 11) Oh Wallace Stevens, dear friend, You are such a pest. You are so sure. You think everyone is in your family. - Wallace Stevens and Florence (pg. 13) Remembering the fury, it is up to us, even Though we feel small compared to the loose Ocean, to keep sailing and not land, And figure out what to say to our children. - On the Oregon Coast for William Stafford (pg. 15) Well, water goes down the Montana gullies. "I'll just go around this rock and think About it later." That's what you said. When death came, you said, "I'll go there." - When William Stafford Died (pg. 16) We know the road the gods take, but we do not know Who will walk on it. All moves slowly In the soul. There is so much time We can stay in grieving another hundred years. The first harp came from an empty turtle. The ocean thistle that has given up its flowering Stays there, and its stem teaches us to go down. Forget the flower; learn to know the sand. - Honoring Sand in memory of Joseph Campbell (pg. 20) The second part follows a loose narrative involving the poet's father and mother. More specifically, the poet's relationship with his father and mother during the period leading up to his father's death. Knowing Bly's views on masculinity (more about that later), the death of his father is of obvious significance. The life of his mother, less so... I said to you, "Are You ready to die?" "I am," you said, "It's too boring Around here." He has in mind Some other place Less boring.... - My Father's Neck (pg. 33) What can we say To each other? That we are nothing When the Man Leaves the room? ... That I am a son, And you are a mother, And that someone Has come between Us, so that we Forget What has saved us? - To My Mother (pg. 39) If I am not With you when you die, That is grevious But just. - Prayer for My Father (pg. 43) I was teaching when you died. The coffin lid Lifted shows some Fall oakleaves sewn High above Your winter face. - A Dream of the Blacksmith's Room (pg. 49) The third part contains two poems, both of which take a similar stance, denouncing the cultural, political, and spiritual conditions of the modern world. We have compromised our transcendental roots in the name of progress, reducing our every efforts to absurd flailing that is desperate and pathetic in its futility... Some ill-smelling, libidinous, worm-shouldered Deep-reaching desirousness rules the countryside. Let sympathy pass, a stranger, to the shores! Let the love between men and women be ground up And fed to talk shows! Let every female breast Be photographed! Let the father be hated! Let the son be hated! Let twelve-year-olds kill the twelve-year-olds! The Great Lord of Desirousness ruling all. - Meditations on the Insatiable Soul, 3 (pg. 56) This is the rage that shouts at children. This is the rage that cannot be satisfied, Because each year more ancient Chinese art objects go on display. So the rage goes inward at last, It ends in doubt, in self-doubt, dyeing the hair, and love of celebrities. The rage comes to rest at last in the talk show late at night, When celebrities without anger or grief tell us that only the famous are good, only they live well. There are waifs inside us, broken by the Pauline gospels; We know them, And those who step on desire as a horse steps on a chick. No cry comes out, only silence, and the faint whisper of the collapsing birdskull. - Anger Against Children (pg. 60) The fourth part is encumbered by Biblical references. I have a tendency to "check out" after reading any Christian content. Not because I denounce Christianity or the poet's right to celebrate Christianity... Let's just say that David and Jonah weren't the only ones who did not care... I didn't care for these poems... I have called Boulders to Enter my poems, Black dusty Earth, rangy Minnesota grass. Why do I hesitate Then to Call to God? - Question in the Los Gatos Hills (pg. 70-71) When David danced for joy, We guess he did not care. When David played The Song of Degrees On his lute, when he cried, "My bones call out From the depths," then we know He did not care. - How David Did Not Care (pg. 72) When Jonah sat Shaded by the spindly Leaves of a gourd, Hot in the desert Sand, he didn't care, nor Did the worm who that night Chewed the stalk So that the gourd fell. - How Jonah Did Not Care (pg. 76) As an advocate of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement (not to be mistaken for the Men's Rights Movement), Bly holds what I consider to be problematic views regarding masculinity. Unfortunately, these views find their way into Bly's poetry... Men wrong women, because a woman wants the two things Joined, but the man wants sawn boards, He wants roads diverging, and jackdaws flying, Heaven and earth parted. Women wrong men, Because the woman wants doves returning at dusk, Clothes folded, and giants sitting down at table. One wants an eternal river - which one? And the other wants A river that makes its own way to the ocean. - Men and Women, 3 (pg. 4) My father said nothing. My brother said it was clear I could never be- Come a man, Would have to play with toys. - Dream of Myself at Twelve (pg. 45) Well of course there is rage. The thirty-four-year-old mother Wants to reject the child still in the womb, And she asks Senators to pass laws to prevent that. The husband dreams of killing his wife, and the wife lays plots. She imagines that he is an Oppressor, And that she is an Aztec Princess. In the night she holds an obsidian knife over her husband's sleeping body. He dreams he is a deer being torn apart by female demons. - Anger Against Children (pg. 59-60) And this girlish knight? Oh I know him. I read the New Testament as I lay Naked on my bed As a boy. The knight Rises up radiant With the forehead- Eye that sees past The criminal's gibbet To the mindful Towers of the spirit city. I hate this solar Boy whom I have been, Rearing his lance above The father.... - St. George, the Dragon, and the Virgin (pg. 66) The first poem, "Men and Women" almost discouraged me from reading the collection altogether. The first stanza alone... The moose's great cock floats in the lily pads. That image calms us. His nose calms us. Slowly, obstinately, we retrieve the pleasures The Fathers, angry with the Gnostics, threw away. - Men and Women, 1 (pg. 3) I guess what I'm trying to say is, I find it difficult to respect a poet who edits an anthology of "Poems for Men". But that doesn't mean the poet shouldn't celebrate his ideal of masculinity, however irksome it may appear to me. I'm evidently the wrong reader for these particular poems (those focusing of Christianity and masculinity). My favourite poem in the collection... Why do I feel free of panic? Here a summer afternoon, wind- Blown lake, a cabin of strong logs. I can live and die with no more Fame; I'd like to walk on, A few books, occasionally a storm. I know stories I can tell, and I may Or may not. There is more To learn: the wind and the screendoor. The granary of images, the Norwegian Lore, the power of Schmad Razum, Good or evil, success or failure. Except something else from me - Less -- and don't rule out Misdirection, silence, misinformation. - Thoughts in the Cabin (pg. 22)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Stephenson

    In my mind, I have long fought against Robert Bly. I was handed a copy of The Maiden King by an ex, one of the good old boys-- a lover of male dominant, female form-worshipping, chauvinistic personalities. I loathed the concept put forth by The Maiden King, but never read it. I loathed the idea of Iron John, but never read that either. I put my ear to the wall of other lit lovers I've also loved and despised and allowed it to guide my opinion. I still don't know what to think about the mythopoet In my mind, I have long fought against Robert Bly. I was handed a copy of The Maiden King by an ex, one of the good old boys-- a lover of male dominant, female form-worshipping, chauvinistic personalities. I loathed the concept put forth by The Maiden King, but never read it. I loathed the idea of Iron John, but never read that either. I put my ear to the wall of other lit lovers I've also loved and despised and allowed it to guide my opinion. I still don't know what to think about the mythopoetic men's group, but I think it's at least fair to dip my toes in and see what there is to be salvaged and cherished and what can be tossed aside and not subscribed to. That said, there were several passages that made me cringe, but there were far more of them that made me soar.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Some wonderful truly exploding poems and some I wondered why he included. For me taking the book slowly was the only way to begin to plumb the depths.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Don Wentworth

    There are five excellent poems in this volume and I wavered between a 3 and 4 star rating, the 9 additional poems I marked for a second or third reading swayed me to add the additional star. The second section is particularly moving as it deals with the deaths of his parents. "My Father at Eighty-Five" comes from that section. My Father at Eighty-Five His large ears hear everything. A hermit wakes and sleeps in a hut underneath his gaunt cheeks. His eyes blue, alert, dis- appointed and suspicious complain I There are five excellent poems in this volume and I wavered between a 3 and 4 star rating, the 9 additional poems I marked for a second or third reading swayed me to add the additional star. The second section is particularly moving as it deals with the deaths of his parents. "My Father at Eighty-Five" comes from that section. My Father at Eighty-Five His large ears hear everything. A hermit wakes and sleeps in a hut underneath his gaunt cheeks. His eyes blue, alert, dis- appointed and suspicious complain I do not bring him the same sort of jokes the nurses do. He is a small bird waiting to be fed, mostly beak, an eagle or a vulture or the Pharoah's servant just before death. My arm on the bedrail rests there, relaxed, with new love. All I know of the Troubadours I bring to this bed. I do not want or need to be shamed by him any longer. The general of shame has discharged him and left him in this small provincial Egyptian town. If I do not wish to shame him, then why not love him? His long hands, large, veined, capable, can still retain hold of what he wanted. But is that what he desired? Some powerful river of desire goes on flowing through him. He never phrased what he desired, and I am his son. A number of the poems in this volume have slightly altered versions in Bly's recent collection of selected poems, "Stealing Sugar From The Castle (5 stars). Highly recommended for those who love Bly and those with a particular interest in modern American poetry.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Akre

    I've read many of these poems again two times or more, and what strikes me is the brilliant use of line breaks, the enjambments that bring about double- or triple-meanings and subtle ambiguities of meaning. I would bring it up first, for it is masterful. You see more the more you read them. The book contains several sections, each with its own flavor and structure. To me, Bly is a master of the powerful natural image, a trope with which he treats all kinds of human issues, like gender, capacity f I've read many of these poems again two times or more, and what strikes me is the brilliant use of line breaks, the enjambments that bring about double- or triple-meanings and subtle ambiguities of meaning. I would bring it up first, for it is masterful. You see more the more you read them. The book contains several sections, each with its own flavor and structure. To me, Bly is a master of the powerful natural image, a trope with which he treats all kinds of human issues, like gender, capacity for wisdom, and visionary experience. This imagery is a recurrence that cannot be missed, lending primitivity and power to the verse. The poems about his father and mother stand out for their short, sharp lines, unbroken in long stanzas of awkward encounters and regret and sadness. They were written as his father was dying (or afterward), and they are very personal reflections in which we in turn may see our own relationships, or ponder their mortality. A short book, to be read easily but then repetitively for the poems that strike interest.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jay Woodman

    Interesting poems that have the power to shake you to the roots. Includes an essay from "The Sibling Society" about the nafs - the greedy and ferocious levels of the soul from the Muslim and Sufi tradition being the lower 2 of the 4 levels - the lower or bitter (al-nafs al-amara) nafs and the blaming nafs. The other, more mature, levels are the inspired nafs and the nafs-at-rest. Interesting poems that have the power to shake you to the roots. Includes an essay from "The Sibling Society" about the nafs - the greedy and ferocious levels of the soul from the Muslim and Sufi tradition being the lower 2 of the 4 levels - the lower or bitter (al-nafs al-amara) nafs and the blaming nafs. The other, more mature, levels are the inspired nafs and the nafs-at-rest.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Justin de la Cruz

    Pretty good. Collected poems with sections, with arcs to them. One section on the decline and death of his father. Many of the poems full of nature imagery. Only a couple poems that were incomprehensible to me because of references to people I didn't know about. Fairly short poems, can zoom through the collection with ease and a sense of accomplishment. 3.5 stars if I could put that. Pretty good. Collected poems with sections, with arcs to them. One section on the decline and death of his father. Many of the poems full of nature imagery. Only a couple poems that were incomprehensible to me because of references to people I didn't know about. Fairly short poems, can zoom through the collection with ease and a sense of accomplishment. 3.5 stars if I could put that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt Morris

    Read my review of this & other books at http://miscmss.blogspot.ca/2013/09/ju... Read my review of this & other books at http://miscmss.blogspot.ca/2013/09/ju...

  9. 4 out of 5

    C

    Five stars: the sun crosses heaven from west to east bringing Samson back to the womb & everything in part one. Three stars: everything else

  10. 5 out of 5

    Scott F

    Couple really great poems in this book. Check out "On the Oregon Coast" , "Thoughts in the Cabin", and "How David did not Care" Couple really great poems in this book. Check out "On the Oregon Coast" , "Thoughts in the Cabin", and "How David did not Care"

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabethx

    My favorite book of poems. The one the book is named after is my favorite.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Trine

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tony

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diana Michele

  16. 5 out of 5

    P J

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keith Anderko

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kyle V

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kenhomer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Molly

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joan Porter

  26. 5 out of 5

    David

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bill Calhoun

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marlin Harrison

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

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