Every poem by Robert Bly is to be adored. Bly’s creativity, poetics, and precision are eloquent and deliberate. Reading his poems is like reading a poetry field guide. He observes and researches human interaction with nature, and then uses metaphors and personification to transform encounters into emotional enlightenment. Bly is a master of nature poetry, a master whose perfection requires eternal praise ... Masterfully crafted from the outset, each poem carries unique images and mechanics, proving Bly’s poetic range and skill. He easily flows from narrative to free verse poetry, without losing any multisensory gratification. He also punctuates his poetry, which proves his careful attention to details ... One cannot help but recall the poetry of Robert Frost, Jim Harrison, and Mary Oliver when reading Bly’s engaging, multisensory, and true poetry. Bly writes with a naturalist’s eye and sage view to derive permanent human emotions from natural beauty. For all readers, writers, and lovers of life, Robert Bly’s Collected Poems, is an honor to read.
Astonishing ... You cannot read Bly’s poetry without appreciating his belief that cultural integration might redeem us all. Nowhere is that more apparent than in his translations of several centuries of European, Middle Eastern and South American poets...You won’t find any translations in Collected Poems, a shame since in those translations there is something more than just an echo of his focus on the nature of a capacious imagination ... How can one read Collected Poems, then, from its first wintry still lifes, whose lyricism is as clean as snow falling onto bare trees, through the grapplings with injustice, to the mannered ghazals of the last decades, without seeing that Bly’s career is one of the few great models of integrating the citizen with the mystic, whose body of work makes the argument that being a poet does not excuse you from joining in the national debate? By my reading his best poems are sketched with earnestness, with reverence to self-authority, and with the subtle and strange forces of myth, where intricate connections of disparate motifs reveal the terrors and charms of the world. In his fashion, he makes metaphors for grace. Compared with that, the big, popular blunderbuss of Bly hardly matters.
The 1980s books lay the groundwork for the mythopoetic men’s movement ... The 1990s collections communicate more directly than those before and after them ... physical and mental images associate across time, places, and cultures by means of emotion and revelation rather than logic or rhetoric. Magnificent.
No poet, with the exception of Stafford, is as good as Bly at rendering in a plain style the deliciousness of solitude, of simple pleasures rendered sensuously ... Bly must also have read Jung early on, because he tends to think in terms of archetypes, sometimes to good effect, sometimes at the expense of accuracy and credibility. In addition, there is the question of his poetry’s extreme unevenness: often the gems lie side by side with the clunkers.