The Great Society

By Robert Bly b. 1926 Robert Bly
Dentists continue to water their lawns even in the rain:
Hands developed with terrible labor by apes   
Hang from the sleeves of evangelists;
There are murdered kings in the light-bulbs outside movie theaters:   
The coffins of the poor are hibernating in piles of new tires.

The janitor sits troubled by the boiler,
And the hotel keeper shuffles the cards of insanity.   
The President dreams of invading Cuba.   
Bushes are growing over the outdoor grills,   
Vines over the yachts and the leather seats.

The city broods over ash cans and darkening mortar.   
On the far shore, at Coney Island, dark children   
Playing on the chilling beach: a sprig of black seaweed,   
Shells, a skyful of birds,
While the mayor sits with his head in his hands.

Robert Bly, "The Great Society" from The Light Around the Body, published by HarperCollins Publishers  Copyright © 1967 and renewed 1995 by Robert Bly.  Used by permission of Robert Bly.

Source: The Light Around the Body (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1966)

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Poet Robert Bly b. 1926

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Class, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Jobs & Working, Activities

 Robert  Bly


Since the 1960s, Robert Bly has written poetry that is nonacademic, based in the natural world, the visionary, and the realm of the irrational. As a poet, editor and translator, Bly has profoundly affected American verse, introducing many unknown European and South American poets to new readers. In addition to his poetic endeavors, he has gained attention for his theories on the roots of social problems, and his efforts to help . . .

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SUBJECT Class, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Jobs & Working, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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