Ravens Hiding in a Shoe

By Robert Bly b. 1926 Robert Bly
There is something men and women living in houses
Don’t understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman’s shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.

The baby loon follows the mother’s sleek
Body for months. By the end of summer, she
Has dipped her head into Rainy Lake a thousand times.

Robert, you’ve wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.

Source: Poetry (February 2010).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

February 2010
 Robert  Bly

Biography

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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.