Sunday, November 30, 2014

Building Your Wren's Nest: Robert Bly

Photo by Nottsexminer

The inner nest not made by instinct
Will never be quite round,
And each has to enter the nest
Made by the other imperfect bird.
Robert Bly
from Listening to the Koln Concert

Photo by Tibor Nagy

why so restless
restless, restless?
little wren
translated by David G. Lanoue


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Anonymous said...

Hi Don:

Thank you for the nice post - it got me rummaging around on my bookshelves for an hour or two - which was also nice.

I couldn't remember which book the poem came from - it's "Loving A Woman In Two Worlds" - my copy is a 1985 hardback first edition - I cannot recall where I got it. On the back of the dust jacket it says "(Bly) is also writing 'The Wildman and Other Stories for Men', a psychic interpretation of the classical fairy tales as they relate to masculine development." Of course that book became "Iron John", which came out in 1990, five years after the aforementioned book of poems.

I found it interesting to read the entire poem against the last stanza you quoted - almost like two separate poems - which I'm sure you were well aware of!

What tangled (and interesting) webs we weave . . .

Best -


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Jeffrey. I was sorely tempted to post the whole poem, but was particularly interested in seeing the reaction to this excerpt. I'm currently reading Bly's selected poems and am enjoying it very much.

I remember Iron John - interesting early title alternative. More soon, I hope. best, Don

Anonymous said...


In the stanza quoted, I was confused by the "made by intinct" phrase - I couldn't track the logic so to speak - as though there has to be any - at any rate it made more sense to me after reading the entire poem.

I have the "Eating The Honey Of Words" selected poems - perhaps there has been another published since that one. That collection has an early version of the poem "Talking Into the Ear Of A Donkey" - the very last poem in the book -which appeared much revised eleven years later in the 2011 book of the same title. I remember your mentioning the Donkey Book in a post awhile back.

Sorry to occasionally digress but sometimes the threads of connection catch my attention and interest me . . .


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Yes, indeed, there is a new selected poems by Bly, which I'm enjoying more than I thought I might.

Love the small irony of not being able to find the logic in "made by instinct" - I know you were aware of it, too.

Your overall point, though, is well taken - excerpting can change meaning, context etc.

By the way ... I love the digressions.