Synopses & Reviews
Acclaimed poet and translator Robert Bly, known most recently for gatherings in which he guides men to greater self-knowledge, has created a unique multicultural collection of 150 poems that demonstrate the union of spirit between the poet and the natural world. Their "twofold" nature celebrates inner and outer consciousness, the participation of the object in the poetic vision.
In this splendid anthology, Bly introduces the poems with extensive commentary to show society's changing attitudes toward nature - a movement away from anthropocentric assumptions fostered by Descartes, the church, imperial ambitions, and the rise of technology. Those beliefs held that human thought was the only sentient force in the universe and resulted in the subjugation of the natural world to the designs of the human intellect.
Starting with the works of Pope, Swift, Milton, and others representing the "old position," the volume proceeds to the poetry of Blake, Hölderlin, Rilke, Goethe, Keats, and on to the enlightened sensibilities of Rexroth, Levertov, Berry, and, among many others, Bly himself. Bly's translations of Goethe, Rilke, Neruda, Lorca, Jiménez, Nerval, and others provide cross-cultural examples.
The news this poetry brings is good news - of consciousness operating outside our own, all around us, and universally available to receptive spirits.
Acclaimed poet and translator Robert Bly here assembles a unique cross-cultural anthology that illuminates the idea of a larger-than-human consciousness operating in the universe. The books 150 poems come from around the world and many eras: from the ecstatic Sufi poet Rumi to contemporary voices like Kenneth Rexroth, Denise Levertov, Charles Simic, and Mary Oliver. Brilliant introductory essays trace our shifting attitudes toward the natural world, from the old position” of dominating or denigrating nature, to the growing sympathy expressed by the Romantics and American poets like Whitman and Dickinson. Blys translations of Neruda, Rilke, and others, along with superb examples of non-Western verse such as Eskimo and Zuni songs, complete this important, provocative anthology.