The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems

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9780060188818: The Night Abraham Called to the Stars: Poems

Accepting the powerful models that Islamic poetry, including the poetry of Rumi and Hãfez, provide, the National Book Award -- winning poet Robert Bly transmutes the ghazal from into a stunning series of poems.

In The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, Robert Bly offers Western readers the opportunity to experience the thrilling leaps that the ghazal form allows. In the ghazal, each stanza is an independent poem, so the writer is able to shift landscapes. One stanza may be biographical, the next may have a reference to myth, the next a meditation on conscience.

In these poems, the reader will find many references to our own cultural past, as in Sir Isaac Newton, Gustav Mahler, ZLord Tennyson, Francis Bacon, and Madame Bovary, figures who belong to our intellectual history. The poems bring something startling and new. Merging wildness and a beautiful formality, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars is Robert Bly's greates volume of poetry and ensures his reputation as one of the major poets of our era.

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About the Author:

Robert Bly's books of poetry include The Night Abraham Called to the Stars and My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy. His awards include the National Book Award for poetry and two Guggenheims. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

From Publishers Weekly:

When Iron John: A Book About Men took off in the early '90s, Bly's poetic reputation was instantly eclipsed, though he had long embraced mythic precedents and close examination of masculine feelings in his work. Bly has also worked in collaboration with linguists to translate Islamic religious poetry, and this eighth collection reflects these and other varied and sustained interests. The book's 48 lyrics are written in a single (here terceted) form, the ghazal, used by such great Islamic poets as Ghalib, and harness high points of Western art and literature to draw general, biblically backed conclusions about the human condition out of the mire. The three poems inspired by Rembrandt are probably the best here, simple in diction and understated in effect: "Titus receives a scattering of darkness./ He's baptized by water soaking in onions;/ The father protects his son by washing him in the night." But too many lines veer from the prosaic into the clunky in their quest for universal imagery: "My heart is a calm potato by day, and a weeping,/ Abandoned woman by night," notes the speaker of the title poem. After a series of mentions of animals in "The Wildebeest," a reference to "The Moses of the beaver" is unconsciously comic at best. The cultural references follow one another at a fast and furious pace, and while the initial surprise of finding Chekhov and Blake or Kierkegaard and Cezanne in the same poem can be pleasant, there is little holding them there beyond Bly's will-to-form. No one will doubt Bly's sincerity, but the poems fall short of the heady figures they invoke. (May)Forecast: Despite their flaws, these poems surpass the new work of last year's Eating the Honey of Words: New & Selected Poems. Bly's multitude of fans will recognize their hero's concerns and preoccupations, here more elegiacally than ever, and relish some of the real achievements.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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