Two Poems by Robert Bly


Why We Don’t Die

In late September many voices
Tell you you will die.
That leaf says it, that coolness.
All of them are right.

Our many souls—what
Can they do about it?
Nothing. They’re already
Part of the invisible.

Our souls have been
Longing to go home
Anyway. “It’s late,” they say,
“Lock the door, let’s go.”

The body doesn’t agree. It says
“We buried a little iron
Ball under that tree.
Let’s go get it.”


Seeing the Eclipse in Maine

It started about noon. On top of Mount Batte,
We were all exclaiming. Someone had a cardboard
And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun
Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.

It was hard to believe. The high school teacher
We’d met called it a pinhole camera,
People in the Renaissance loved to do that.
And when the moon had passed partly through

We saw on a rock underneath a fir tree,
Dozens of crescents—made the same way—
Thousands! Even our straw hats produced
A few as we moved them over the bare granite.

We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine
Told a joke. Suns were everywhere—at our feet.


About the Author

Robert Bly was an American poet.

Post Image

Detail from a photograph by Omid Armin (Unsplash).

Publication Rights

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Why We Don’t Die” is reprinted from Collected Poems of Robert Bly. Copyright © 2018, 2011, 2005, 2001, 1997, 1994, 1985, 1981, 1979, 1977, 1975, 1973, 1972, 1967, 1966, 1965, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1953 by Robert Bly. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. “Seeing the Eclipse in Maine” poem copyright © 1997 by Robert Bly, whose most recent book of poetry is My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy, Harper Perennial, 2006. Poem reprinted from Music, Pictures, and Stories, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2002, by permission of the writer.

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