Monday

Dec. 23, 2002

So Be It, Amen

by Robert Bly

MONDAY, 23 DECEMBER 2002
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Poem: "So Be It. Amen." by Robert Bly from The Night Abraham Called to the Stars (Harper Collins).

So Be It. Amen.

There are people who don't want Kierkegaard to be
A humpback, and they're looking for a wife for Cézanne.
It's hard for them to say, "So be it. Amen."

When a dead dog turned up on the road, the disciples
Held their noses. Jesus walked over and said:
"What beautiful teeth!" It's a way to say "Amen."

If a young boy leaps over seven hurdles in a row,
And an instant later is an old man reaching for his cane,
To the swiftness of it all we have to say "Amen."

We always want to intervene when we hear
That the badger is marrying the wrong person,
But the best thing to say at a wedding is "Amen."

The grapes of our ruin were planted centuries
Before Caedmon ever praised the Milky Way.
"Praise God," "Damn God" are all synonyms for "Amen."

Women in Crete loved the young men, but when
"The Son of the Deep Waters" dies in the bath,
And they show the rose-colored water, Mary says "Amen."



On this day in 1823, an anonymous poem entitled "A Visit From St. Nicholas" was printed in the Troy (New York) Sentinel. It is known better by its first line: "Twas the night before Christmas…" Though attributed to Clement C. Moore, the original poem was actually likely written by Major Henry Livingston.

It's the birthday of poet and editor Harriet Monroe, born in Chicago, Illinois (1860). She founded Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in Chicago in 1912.

It's the birthday of Jean Francois Champollion, the founder of scientific Egyptology, born in Figeac, France (1790). He is credited with unlocking the code of the Rosetta Stone, an ancient language key discovered near Alexandria in 1799. By determining that hieroglyphic symbols represented sounds as well as concepts, depending on their context, he resurrected the ancient Egyptian language that had been dead for thousands of years.

It's the birthday of poet, translator and editor Robert Bly, born in Madison, Minnesota (1926). He has written over thirty books of poetry, including Loving a Woman in Two Worlds (1987), The Light Around the Body (1967), and an accidental best-seller, Iron John: A Book for Men (1990), about a Grimm brother's fable. He served in the Navy during WWII, and then entered Harvard University, where, he later said, "I learned to trust my obsessions…One day while studying a Yeats poem I decided to write poetry the rest of my life." He said, "I think a poem (also) is a dream, a dream which you are willing to share with the community. It happens a writer often doesn't understand a poem until some months after he's written it -- just as a dreamer doesn't understand a dream. Being a poet in the United States has meant for me years of confusion, blundering, and self-doubt. The confusion lies in not knowing whether I am writing in the American language or the English or, more exactly, how much of the musical power of Chaucer, Marvell, and Keats can be kept in free verse. Not knowing how to live, or even how to make a living, results in blunders. And the self-doubt comes from living in small towns."



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