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Robert Bly quotes (showing 1-30 of 51)

“I am proud only of those days that pass in
undivided tenderness.”
Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow
“Every noon as the clock hands arrive at twelve,
I want to tie the two arms together,
And walk out of the bank carrying time in bags.”
Robert Bly, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems
“It’s all right if you grow your wings on the way down.”
Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems
“It is not our job to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves
Like the trees, and be born again,
Drawing up from the great roots.”
Robert Bly
“As the saying goes, you might as well be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
Robert Bly, Getting Started as a Freelance Writer
“I knew this friendship with myself couldn’t last forever.”
Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems
A man told me once that all the bad people
Were needed. Maybe not all, but your fingernails
You need; they are really claws, and we know
Claws. The sharks—what about them?
They make other fish swim faster. The hard-faced men
In black coats who chase you for hours
In dreams—that’s the only way to get you
To the shore. Sometimes those hard women
Who abandon you get you to say, “You.”
A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn’t move on its own. Sometimes it takes
A lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.
Then they blow across three or four States.
This man told me that things work together.
Bad handwriting sometimes leads to new ideas;
And a careless god—who refuses to let people
Eat from the Tree of Knowledge—can lead
To books, and eventually to us. We write
Poems with lies in them, but they help a little.”
Robert Bly, Morning Poems
“Wherever there is water there is someone drowning.”
Robert Bly, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems
“I want nothing from You but to see You.”
Robert Bly, Morning Poems
“I was unfaithful even to Infidelity.”
Robert Bly, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems
“What does it mean when a man falls in love with a radiant face across the room? It may mean that he has some soul work to do. His soul is the issue. Instead of pursuing the woman and trying to get her alone, away from her husband, he needs to go alone himself, perhaps to a mountain cabin, for three months, write poetry, canoe down a river, and dream. That would save some women a lot of trouble.”
Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
“Reclaiming the sacred in our lives naturally brings us close once more to the wellsprings of poetry.”
Robert Bly
“The inner boy in a messed-up family may keep on being shamed, invaded, disappointed, and paralyzed for years and years. "I am a victim," he says, over and over; and he is. But that very identification with victimhood keeps the soul house open and available for still more invasions. Most American men today do not have enough awakened or living warriors inside to defend their soul houses. And most people, men or women, do not know what genuine outward or inward warriors would look like, or feel like.”
Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
“The candle is not lit
To give light, but to testify to the night.”
Robert Bly, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems
“In ordinary life, a mentor can guide a young man through various disciplines, helping to bring him out of boyhood into manhood; and that in turn is associated not with body building, but with building and emotional body capable of containing more than one sort of ecstasy.”
Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
Suppose you see a face in a Toyota
One day, and you fall in love with that face,
And it is Her, and the world rushes by
Like dust blown down a Montana street.
And you fall upward into some deep hole,
And you can’t tell God from a grain of sand.
And your life is changed, except that now you
Overlook even more than you did before;
And these ignored things come to bury you,
And you are crushed, and your parents
Can’t help anymore, and the woman in the Toyota
Becomes a part of the world that you don’t see.
And now the grain of sand becomes sand again,
And you stand on some mountain road weeping.”
Robert Bly, Morning Poems
I have been thinking about the man who gives in.
Have you heard about him? In this story
A twenty-eight-foot pine meets a small wind
And the pine bends all the way over to the ground.
I was persuaded,” the pine says. “It was convincing.”
A mouse visits a cat, and the cat agrees
To drown all her children. “What could I do?”
The cat said. “The mouse needed that.”
It’s strange. I’ve heard that some people conspire
In their own ruin. A fool says, “You don’t
Deserve to live.” The man says, “I’ll string this rope
Over that branch, maybe you can find a box.”
The Great One with her necklace of skulls says,
I need twenty thousand corpses.” “Tell you what,”
The General says, “we have an extra battalion
Over there on the hill. We don’t need all these men.”
Robert Bly, Morning Poems
“A person who discreetly farts in an elevator is not a divine being, and a man needs to know this.”
Robert Bly
“His large ears
Hear everything
A hermit wakes
And sleeps in a hut
His gaunt cheeks.
His eyes blue, alert,
And suspicious,
Complain I
Do not bring him
The same sort of
Jokes the nurses
Do. He is a 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
Desireed? Some
Powerful engine
Of desire goes on
Turning inside his body.
He never phrased
What he desired,
And I am

his son.”
Robert Bly, Selected Poems
“My life failed on the very day I was born.”
Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems
“When a man says to a woman, "You are my anima," she should quickly scream and run out of the room. The word anima has neither the greatness of the Woman with Golden Hair nor the greatness of an ordinary woman, who wants to be loved as a woman.”
Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
“A lazy part of us is like a tumbleweed.
It doesn’t move on its own. Sometimes it takes
A lot of Depression to get tumbleweeds moving.”
Robert Bly, Morning Poems
Early Morning in Your Room

It's morning. The brown scoops of coffee, the wasp-like
Coffee grinder, the neighbors still asleep.
The gray light as you pour gleaming water--
It seems you've traveled years to get here.

Finally you deserve a house. If not deserve
It, have it; no one can get you out. Misery
Had its way, poverty, no money at least.
Or maybe it was confusion. But that's over.

Now you have a room. Those lighthearted books:
The Anatomy of Melancholy, Kafka's Letter
to his Father
, are all here. You can dance
With only one leg, and see the snowflake falling

With only one eye. Even the blind man
Can see. That's what they say. If you had
A sad childhood, so what? When Robert Burton
Said he was melancholy, he meant he was home.”
Robert Bly, Stealing Sugar from the Castle: Selected and New Poems, 1950--2013
tags: poetry
“Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think... and think... while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time
before death.

If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will rejoin with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten--
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the
City of Death.

If you make love with the divine now, in the next
life you will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that
does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.”
Robert Bly
“I have daughters and I have sons.
When one of them lays a hand
On my shoulder, shining fish
Turn suddenly in the deep sea.”
Robert Bly
tags: poetry
“Those of us who make up poems have agreed not to say what the pain is.”
Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems
“like a note of music, you are about to become nothing”
Robert Bly, My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems
“They wrote to me and said something about it, and I said that if it doesn't involve any work, I'll do it.
(On being named Minnesota's first Poet Laureate)”
Robert Bly
tags: apathy
“If any help was going to arrive to lift me out of my misery, it would come from the dark side of my personality.”
Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow
“I know men who are healthier at fifty than they've ever been before, because a lot of their fear is gone.”
Robert Bly

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