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The Soul is Here for its Own Joy

Sacred Poems from Many Cultures
Paperback Book
February, 1999
In stock now: 
$19.99 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

In the words of Irish writer Sean O’Faolain, “all good writing in the end is the writer’s argument with God.” Robert Bly’s new anthology celebrates the timeless role of the divine in literature, expressed by his choice of poetry from a wide range of religious traditions, historical periods, and literary movements. The poems confirm the beauty and efficacy of the written word as a medium for humanity’s eternal debate with and for the spiritual world.

Bly is fascinated with the spiritual dimension necessary to the material world. The Soul is Here For Its Own Joy is divided into ten sections, each exploring different aspects of spiritual questioning, mythical symbolism, and mystical faith which have resonated across cultures and throughout time. We begin by “Starting on the Path” and move to “Longing for the Garden”; debate “Leaving the Body or Entering It?” and “The Matter of Hunger or Greed”; reflect upon “Loving God Through Loving a Woman or Man,” “The God in the Feminine,” and complete the cycle in “Dying to the World” and “The Spirit Lives Here Only as a Guest of the Soul.”

If you could turn your heart

into a cowstall,

Christ would be born again on earth!

                             —Angelus Silesius

With this new anthology of poetry, Robert Bly touches upon the current controversy surrounding religion, spirituality, and how we can invoke these meaningfully in our modern lives. All the while, however, he maintains the thoughtful and necessary distance of the poet in society, as well as taking the deliberate care of one who is driven to consider the difficulties and dangers, joys and epiphanies, of language and belief. Numbered among the poets here are Rilke, Dickinson, Jimenez, Owl Woman, Tagore, Dante, St. John of the Cross, Simone Weil, Kabir, Rumi, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, Hafiz, Antonio Machado, George Herbert, Yeats, Lalla, William Stafford and many others. A generous distillation, worthy of the best of journeys.

A Place to Sit

Don’t go outside your house to see flowers.

My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.

Inside your body there are flowers.

One flower has a thousand petals.

That will do for a place to sit.

Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty

inside the body and out of it,

before gardens and after gardens.



Publisher’s Description: 

Robert Bly's ground-breaking anthology of spiritual poems, the result of over a decade of personal research, celebrates the ongoing role of the divine in literature. For as long as people have lived together in communities and built enduring cultures, they have sung and written about their relationship with the God or gods they believed in. In the words of the Irish writer Sean O'Faolain, "all good writing in the end is the writer's argument with God."

The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy gathers poems from a wide range of cultures and traditions and divides them into ten parts, each forming a resonant exploration of a specific and timeless spiritual question. Selections include the work of Dante, Dogen, Goethe, Hafez, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Kabir, Lalla, Li Po, Mirabai, Mary Oliver, Owl Woman, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Rumi, in addition to Blake, Dickinson, Donne, Hopkins, Stevens, Yeats, and other important English and American poets. Together these poems form both a celebration and a quest--a kind of pilgrim's progress that embraces all the rich wisdom of East and West, ancient and modern, male and female, spirit and flesh.

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