Cover image for Eating the honey of words : new and selected poems
Eating the honey of words : new and selected poems
Bly, Robert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperFlamingo, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 270 pages ; 22 cm
Early poems (1950-55) -- Silence in the snowy fields (1958-78) -- Light around the body (1957-70) -- Teeth mother naked at last (1970-72) -- Point Reyes poems (1965-84) -- Loving a woman in two worlds (1973-81) -- This body is made of camphor and gopherwood (1973-80) -- Man in the black coat turns (1980-84) -- Meditations on the insatiable soul (1990-94) -- Morning poems (1993-97) -- New poems (1997-98).
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3552.L9 E28 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Robert Bly has had many roles in his illustrious career. He is a chronicler and mentor of young poets, many of whom he presented in his series of edited books -- The Fifties, The Sixties, and The Seventies. He was a leader of the antiwar movement, founded the men's movement virtually by himself, and published the bestseller Iron John. All through these activities, he has continued to deepen his own poetry, a vigorous voice in a period of more academic wordsmiths. Now, in Eating the Honey of Words, he presents the best poems he has written in the last three decades, including favorites from his earlier books such as Silence in the Snowy Fields, The Man in the Black Coat Turns, and Loving a Woman in Too Worlds. Joining these timeless classics are a number of poems from these past decades never published before, as well as a complete section of marvelous new poems from the last two years.

This book is a chance to reread, in a fresh setting, many of Bly's most famous early poems, and in some instances to see how they have changed over the years. In this new selection, one can see more clearly than ever the powerful undercurrents that carry this poetry from one book to the next.

Eating the Honey of Words is a brilliant collection that confirms Robert Bly's role as one of America's preeminent poets writing today.

The Face in the Toyota

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.

Author Notes

Robert Bly lives on a farm in his native state of Minnesota. He edited The Seventies magazine, which he founded as The Fifties and in the next decade called The Sixties. In 1966, with David Ray, he organized American Writers Against the Vietnam War. The Light Around the Body, which won the National Book Award in 1968, was strongly critical of the war in Vietnam and of American foreign policy. Since publication of Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a response to the women's movement, Bly has been immensely popular, appearing on talk shows and advising men to retrieve their primitive masculinity through wildness.

Bly is also a translator of Scandinavian literature, such as Twenty Poems of Tomas Transtromer. Through the Sixties Press and the Seventies Press, he introduced little-known European and South American poets to American readers. His magazines have been the center of a poetic movement involving the poets Donald Hall, Louis Simpson, and James Wright.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bly's lasting fame will probably be as the most influential voice of the men's spirituality movement and, before that, as perhaps the most highly visible writer among anti^-Vietnam War protesters. He has maintained his primary public identity as a poet, however, though critics have seen his other activities as draining the creative impetus out of his poetry, and that was the nicest thing they said. His best work has mostly portrayed a life rooted in a homeland and steady ways of livelihood--his place is rural Minnesota; his familial, if not his own, livelihood is farming--as a springboard to universal consciousness. His apocalyptic antiwar poem, "The Teeth Mother Naked at Last," is splendid of its kind; several Point Reyes Poems (1974), most of which are in prose, effectively confront nature; and newer poems concerning his father's death are starkly powerful. Those poems are all here, but so is much that is slack and sentimental--Bly's critics are not wrong. This selection, unlike, say, Yvor Winters' Selected Poems [BKL Mr 1 99], would be better if it was smaller. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Heeded in the '60s as the head apostle of the "Deep Image" school of poets; known for "read-ins" against the Vietnam War; and heralded again recently as the author of the men's movement guide Iron John, Bly has been famous several times over. But this broad set of poems from his whole career reveals how detrimentally little his style has changed. Fond of would-be archetypal terms like "the darkness," "fields," "stones," and "the body," Bly seeks simplicity, knowledge of the collective unconscious, solidarity with nature and confidence in his desires: these projects entail, usually, a drastic distrust of subtlety and a near-total repudiation of intellect. Some of Bly's lines make parody pointless: "My body was sour, my life dishonest, and I fell asleep"; "As for me, I want to be a stone! Yes!"; "The bear between my legs/ has one eye only,/ which he offers/ to God to see with"; "In late September many voices/ Tell you you will die"; "More of the fathers are dying each day./ It is time for the sons"Äthis last from "Winter Privacy Poems at the Shack." Some of Bly's mannerisms blossomed into brilliance in the work of his late contemporary James Wright; Bly himself has written a few standout poems, most recently the bizarre "An Afternoon in June." But Bly's real and impressive aural skills, his sense of what is easily effective, and his self-assurance, allow him to go on writing what are at bottom the same lines over and over, whether their catalyst is Vietnam, or sex, or the California coast. One might say of Bly's work, as he says of "The Storm," "It lacked subtlety and obeyed/ Something or someone irresistible"; most of his poems now seem easy to resist. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

At 73, Bly continues a long career given, like that of fellow poet Robert Francis, "to seeing what is far away." A guide to concealed spiritual powers and champion of activist movements (the anti-Vietnam War movement, the men's movement), Bly may want "To sit here,/ Take no part, be called away by wind," but he embraces numerous roles: editing off-beat anthologies and books, translating international poets, and writing poetry that seeks to be receptive to the primitive and the sophisticated, the "wild" and the ingenious. Collecting over 200 poems from 1950 to 1998, this volume is an appealing poetic sampler, although the ten new poems are unexciting. The poems celebrating discoveries Bly makes when alone and silent are always striking, and his imaginative prose poems radiate witty delight. This selection shouldn't be confused with a true representation of the full body of Bly's work, but it is useful for libraries needing a readable overview of 50 years of thought-provoking poetry.ÄFrank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.