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My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy

My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy by Robert Bly
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A fresh, new volume by one of the premier living American poets

Readers have found Robert Bly's ghazals startling and new; they merge wildness with a beautiful formality. The ghazal form is well known in Islamic culture but is only now making its way into the literary culture of the West. Each stanza of three lines amounts to a finished poem. "God crouches at night over a single pistachio. / The vastness of the Wind River Range in Wyoming / Has no more grandeur than the waist of a child." The ghazal's compacted energy is astounding. In a period when much American poetry is retreating into prosaic recordings of daily events, these poems do the opposite.

My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy is Robert Bly's second book of ghazals. The poems have become more intricate and personal than they were in The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, and the leaps even more bold. This book includes the already famous poem against the Iraq War "Call and Answer": "Tell me why it is we don't lift our voices these days / And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed / The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?"

The poems are intimate and yet reach out toward the world: the paintings of Robert Motherwell, the intensity of flamenco singers, the sadness of the gnostics, the delight of high spirits and wit. Robert Bly is writing the best poems of his life, and this book reestablishes his position as one of the greatest poets of our era.

HarperCollins; October 2009
111 pages; ISBN 9780061777547
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Title: My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy
Author: Robert Bly
 
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Excerpt

The Dark Autumn Nights


Imagination is the door to the raven's house, so we are

Already blessed! The one nail that fell from the shoe

Lit the way for Newton to get home from the Fair.

Last night I heard a thousand holy women

And a thousand holy men apologize at midnight

Because there was too much triumph in their voices.

Those lovers, skinny and badly dressed, hated

By parents, did the work; all through the Middle Ages,

It was the lovers who kept the door open to heaven.

Walking home, we become distracted whenever

We pass apple orchards. We are still eating fruit

Left on the ground the night Adam was born.

St. John of the Cross heard an Arab love poem

Through the bars and began his poem. In Nevada it was

Always the falling horse that discovered the mine.

Robert, you know well how much substance can be

Wasted by lovers, but I say, Blessings on those

Who go home through the dark autumn nights.

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ISBNs
0061979848
9780060757199
9780061777547
9780061777554
9780061777561
9780061979842