Posts Tagged ‘Robert Bly’

A Friday Poem for the US, with Love: “Get Out the Vote”

February 14, 2020 Leave a comment

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air. And you may wonder where the love is when you read my poem today.

One of my heroes is Robert Bly. I’ve had the privilege of studying “at his feet” – yes, literally. And I read and reread his poems often. One of my favorite refrains he has written is “It’s already too late!” This is from his second collection of ghazals: “My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy” and the poem titled “Listening to Shahram Nazeri.” So, the other day as I was listening to the news, a commentator said something like: “how far is too far?” And my immediate thought was “it’s already too far!” So, with apologies to Robert I am echoing his refrain in the following:

Get Out the Vote

Russia, if you are listening; Lock her up:
Call and response, chant the chant,
Lies and deceit, cover up: it’s already too far.

Get out the vote, trolls take note, purge the rolls,
Establish the doubt, break the booth;
Lies and deceit: it’s already too far!

Electoral College completes the lie; three million votes,
worthless; Michigan’s few thousand swing the tide.
We begin the slide; it’s already too far!

State is in shambles, FBI firings, DOJ meddlings, DOD
next? Fourth Estate attacked day and night;
Can’t hide the slide: it’s already too far!

Babies in cages, walls blowing down, Native lands sullied,
Rivers muddied, bridges collapsed, brown water sickens:
American carnage, yes: it’s already too far.

Laws don’t matter, impeachment’s ignored,
Power unbounded in the name of us all!
Where is the check? Or, is it already too far?




©2020, Richard W. Bredeson, all rights reserved.


August 5, 2013 1 comment

We spent the entire weekend moving; moving, no matter how far or how much is always a bit surreal. It’s difficult to know when you are finished; there seems no end to the stuff that has to be loaded, moved and unloaded. And time is like that during a move as well. It seems to drag on forever, and then it’s day’s end before you have moved the last box!

I wrote this a few months ago, but it seems to apply to our moving weekend quite well!


Robert Bly says:
“It’s already too late”
In his Midwestern, Norwegian
Accent I know so well.

But is this true?
Are we out of time?
I would rather be in time,
Wouldn’t you?

Time is a slippery notion.
It slips right by when we are not in it.
How often do we kill time?
We spend it, waste it as if it were coinage.

Time is only an attitude.
We are either in it or out of it.
As we spiral through life
I want to live it, not be too late!

©2013 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

The Story is Not the Person! – Richard’s Commentary

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

“The story is not the person.” And often the story is not the story, at least not the whole story. I think that is one of Rosemary’s points.

I had the great privilege over a number of years to “sit at the feet” of Robert Bly. One of his “lessons” was to examine a story or poem on at least three levels: the concrete, the psychological and the mythical. And even then large swaths of a story can be glossed over or missed entirely.

At the concrete level, the story is never the person. You can’t know much at all from this level. It is superficial at best. To use a well worn cliché it’s like judging a story-book by its cover. I am a great fan of science fiction; I can never guess what a book is about from looking at the typically lurid cover! These days you certainly can’t judge anything from clothes. Styles are all over the map and casual is becoming formal in many venues! For those who are well trained and experienced in sensory acuity there are deeper layers to the concrete level that can be observed. Milton Erickson pioneered the use of body language in his hypnotherapy work and could utilize a subtle movement, twitch or flush to take a patient into deeper trance. And this brings us to the psychological level of the story.

Rosemary’s point that “the story is not the person” is much about this psychological level, the back-story, the underlying elements to a person that are buried behind the external persona. Sometimes this deeper part of the story is hidden even from one’s self. Our layers of beliefs for example are not necessarily something we dwell on to determine our current motivations or reactions to situations. It is this psychological level that gets protected, especially the shadow components of our makeup…and we all have them. Our boundaries protect this area and need that respect Rosemary urges us to observe.

And it is this level that we need to take into consideration when interacting with people. We all have our psychological stories. Some we can feel free and even good about sharing. Some remain hidden, protected behind our walls of privacy. The point here is to realize every one of our encounters with a person involves a hidden layer that needs our understanding and respect. We have our boundaries and they have theirs; let the unrevealed layers be a part of the mystery of the encounter.

It is at the mythic layer to the story where we can have some fun. And I don’t mean to make fun but to be inventive, creative in our approach to interacting with others. At some level we humans are all archetypes; we embody all the mythical gods and goddesses, the legendary figures from history, the stories of golden ages with mythic heroes and heroines from pre-history. Bly’s approach to analyze a poem or a story at the mythic level is to look for the archetypal, the over-arching theme that holds deeper meaning beyond the superficial and even the mental levels; the god-like meanings that underpin the entire arch of the story. And we can apply this approach to our encounter with others. Ask, what part of the greater mythology of human existence is this person playing, in his life, in my life, in the greater context of human evolution!

That’s right! Every one of us is playing a role, our personally designed role, in the expanding story of human evolution, the evolution of consciousness! This is exciting, scary, sobering, even mind-boggling. And it’s true.

So, next time when you meet someone, a friend, an acquaintance, even a stranger, ask yourself what role that someone is playing in the unfolding mythology of humanity!


A POEM: “Honor Your Grandfather”

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

I have decided to begin sharing some of my poetry. Mondays seem a good time to do that, a good way to start the week. If you enjoy these I’d love to read your comments!

The following, “Honor Your Grandfather” I subtitled: ‘A remembrance of “A Day for Men” with Robert Bly and Michael Meade at the Lisner auditorium, Washington, DC’. I had attended this day, a lot of years ago now, in the middle years of the men’s movement known as the “Mytho-Poetic Men’s Movement.” I was very moved and influenced by this day for men. And I did then and still do honor my grandfather. As we approach Thanksgiving here in the US I particularly honor all of my ancestors whose product I remain.

The clear day was filled
With heightened expectations—
“A Day for Men.”

At the entrance we were guided
Through a side door leading to steps
Descending into the womb of the theater.

Winding through narrow passages
Voices whispered “Remember your Grandfather.”
“Remember the ancestors,” “Honor your Father.”

A faint rumble echoed
At the Edge of perception—it began
To resolve into rhythm.

Dark warmth held us, then
Suddenly we were birthed
Onto a stage amongst fifty men.

Drumming! Dancing! We were urged on—
Asked to dance across the stage,
To perform for the sea of faces looking back.

The short trip was filled
With tension—light, sound, motion
Blending in splendid cacophony.

Off stage, at our seats, we stood
Dancing in place, pounding rhythm
Of drums, hands, feet—driving.

“Remember your Grandfather” echoed
On the rhythm. He appeared on stage
Larger than he had ever been in life.

Tears streamed—“He would have loved this!”
Primeval sensation drove his body
And mine as we entrained with the drum.

Remembered days with him—the
Dark tavern—blue smoke hanging
Sullenly in the sodden air.

The bar supporting elbows
Of overalled farmers—fresh manure still
Clinging to rubbered boots.

The sweet/sour whiskey and beer breaths
Mingled with aimless talk
Of weather, crops and cows.

They laughed and cried, shared lies
That covered their fears and
Broken dreams—we laughed/cried.

The almost painful rhythm
Brought back the now—then stopped!
We had arrived.




©1990 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.