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The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology

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Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade challenge the assumptions of our poetry-deprived society in this powerful collection of more than 400 deeply moving poems from renowned artists including Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Theodore Roethke, Rainer Maria Rilke, Marianne Moore, Thomas Wolfe, Czeslaw Milosz, and Henry David Thoreau.


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Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade challenge the assumptions of our poetry-deprived society in this powerful collection of more than 400 deeply moving poems from renowned artists including Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Theodore Roethke, Rainer Maria Rilke, Marianne Moore, Thomas Wolfe, Czeslaw Milosz, and Henry David Thoreau.

30 review for The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology

  1. 4 out of 5

    Phayvanh

    This is one of my favorite all-time poetry anthologies. I picked it up at a discount bookstore in San Francisco, back when I was still a reader searching for the right books. And I swear, back when I was reading mostly fiction and memoir, and my depression was making nonsense of my writing, this book brought me back around to the redemption of poety, both as reader and writer, and I will be forever grateful. Edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade, the anthology is divided into This is one of my favorite all-time poetry anthologies. I picked it up at a discount bookstore in San Francisco, back when I was still a reader searching for the right books. And I swear, back when I was reading mostly fiction and memoir, and my depression was making nonsense of my writing, this book brought me back around to the redemption of poety, both as reader and writer, and I will be forever grateful. Edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade, the anthology is divided into sections like "The Naive Male", "The House of Fathers and Titans" and "Mother and Great Mother", making a rather thorough compendium of the great stages of manhood (as I only imagine them to be). Each editor takes turn writing an introduction to the sections and poems of illumination, joy, and heartbreak follow. This book benefits greatly from the decision to include female poets in here too. Sharon Olds, Anna Akhmatova and Nikki Giovanni, to name a few. Also poets of other backgrounds: Rumi, Li-Young Lee, Vallejo, Lorca, Etheridge Kinght, etc. In all, it is a well-conceived, well-executed book. Uplifiting and satisfying, and something to turn to now and again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Pennington

    Trying to get men to talk about feelings is like an old cliche about plasma and a rock. You'll never crack it, but it's fun trying. Poems from the ancient past right up to modern times, all about men and their total inability to understand what the hell is going on around them without causing wars, injuring women or losing their souls to dark forces beyond their control. Robert Bly is leader of the American Men's Movement, a kind of friendly response to feminism which encourages them to get in tou Trying to get men to talk about feelings is like an old cliche about plasma and a rock. You'll never crack it, but it's fun trying. Poems from the ancient past right up to modern times, all about men and their total inability to understand what the hell is going on around them without causing wars, injuring women or losing their souls to dark forces beyond their control. Robert Bly is leader of the American Men's Movement, a kind of friendly response to feminism which encourages them to get in touch with their "inner woman", yet retain a core of masculinity which provides the basis for nurture and growth. His representative on this bit of the earth (UK) up until his passing last November was Jackie Leven, a big old Scotsman with an equally big heart, who came through a two year struggle with heroin to found the Core Trust, an addiction charity once supported by the late Princess Diana. Leven's work quotes many of the poems from this anthology, and provides a tonic for those in need of a bit of comfort in trying times. Sounds heavy, but there's a lot of funny stuff in there as well. One to dip into now and again, rather than live in all the time, as they say.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anders

    Beautiful book of poetry made by men for men. Ladies, don't let that scare you ... It's great and inspirational reading

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave Holt

    This is a book I like to give as a gift to friends who want to read poetry and aren't sure what to read. I'm a fan of Robert Bly's collections and the introductory notes he writes for his collections.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Beagley

    Poems dealing with masculinity. Easy, accessible. This was assigned in a playful poetry class I took in the fall of 1997, after having already completed requirements for the major—I was in a dog-ear corner phase of my relationship to books, and this being a paperback, I cornered whatever I liked. Apparently, I liked poetry that tried to be clever, and succeeded. They are like tiny science fiction stories—the world made real through a door painted in the surreal. It hasn’t gotten any clearer to me Poems dealing with masculinity. Easy, accessible. This was assigned in a playful poetry class I took in the fall of 1997, after having already completed requirements for the major—I was in a dog-ear corner phase of my relationship to books, and this being a paperback, I cornered whatever I liked. Apparently, I liked poetry that tried to be clever, and succeeded. They are like tiny science fiction stories—the world made real through a door painted in the surreal. It hasn’t gotten any clearer to me, in the intervening years, what maleness, masculinity, or gender overall is supposed to mean to me, or to our culture in general. But I still find these poems funny, clever, fun. Lots of direct, concise, rhythmic pacing... easy imagery, poems that show and then just sit and explain themselves—because why not? Hard Images, attempts to shock, but a fair dash of whimsy. I’ll keep this book and flip through it, and I’ll keep my dog-ears—but it isn’t what I really need from poetry. Henry and Mudge’s “Puddle Trouble”, particularly the Snow Glory chapter, are more my speed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon Stout

    If there’s a Women’s Spirituality Group, there has to be a Men’s Group, and our mytho-poetic leader gave us the anthology assembled by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade. In the Foreword they say, “By calling it “Poems for Men” we don’t mean that this collection is not to be read by women; we would rejoice if women read it.” The poets include women, such as Emily Dickenson and Sharon Olds; the new as well as the old, Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas; the east, Rumi and Li Po; the ancient, Cat If there’s a Women’s Spirituality Group, there has to be a Men’s Group, and our mytho-poetic leader gave us the anthology assembled by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade. In the Foreword they say, “By calling it “Poems for Men” we don’t mean that this collection is not to be read by women; we would rejoice if women read it.” The poets include women, such as Emily Dickenson and Sharon Olds; the new as well as the old, Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas; the east, Rumi and Li Po; the ancient, Catullus and Hesiod; and everything else, an Ethiopian woman, Navajo and Eskimo. In fact, the book contains the widest variety of sources that one could imagine. Many of the poems touched me, but I will quote from only one, “Saturn” by Sharon Olds: “He lay on the couch night after night mouth open, the darkness of the room filling his mouth, and no one knew my father was eating his children.” My father never napped on the sofa, but I know exactly what she means. She has captured the way in which inattention and indifference can destroy a child. While many of the poems left me cold, some, like this one, had the magical combination of words that chrystalized an experience that I understood. Poems like these restore my faith in the special character of poetry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz Shine

    I bought this book at a Half Priced Books sale because I like the title and the Yeats poem it alludes to. I read each poem at least two times, then allowed myself to move on if the poem hadn't settled in or moved me. Reading this way reminded me that some poems just aren't for me and that's okay. When reading poems for my own enjoyment, I like to let some wash over me and not struggle needlessly. This way of reading makes the poems that moved me, that I penciled a heart in the margins of (so man I bought this book at a Half Priced Books sale because I like the title and the Yeats poem it alludes to. I read each poem at least two times, then allowed myself to move on if the poem hadn't settled in or moved me. Reading this way reminded me that some poems just aren't for me and that's okay. When reading poems for my own enjoyment, I like to let some wash over me and not struggle needlessly. This way of reading makes the poems that moved me, that I penciled a heart in the margins of (so many in this book!) to resonate brighter.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jer El

    Words are often inadequate to convey certain experiences in life, which is why we invented poetry to try to express what in life is often a feeling, a knowing, or an encounter with soul. This is one of the greatest anthologies I have seen, it is a wonderful resource for anyone. And, if you happen to be looking for poetry specifically for a male in your life - then my suggestion is you give this a look first.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Petra

    This is an incredibly amazing collection of poems that is used in the Mythopoetic movement of which I am a member. it contains some of my favorite poems. It is about mostly "crazy wisdom" and "radical creativity" and total liberation. It is in the Mithopoethic movement that I discovered the natural and organic tools and processes that have guided me in writing Missing Links. Reading these poems may change your life. It sure changed mine! Go for it!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Thematic poems, collected from sources old and new. These poems speak toward aspiration and redemption, boldness and humour, loss and acceptance. An amazing work and a testimony to the value of poetry and the primacy of the spoken word. Read it aloud if you dare!

  11. 4 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    I got this book because its title (The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart), like much of the rest of Yeats, is unbeatable. I didn't realize at the time that it had a subtitle; if I did realize it had this particular subtitle (Poems for Men), I wouldn't have bought it. My negative intuition toward the subtitle proved correct. Lots of weird stuff in the introduction and introductory essays in the chapters about Men as this difficult to understand primordial being. Lots of stuff about "in our meetings I got this book because its title (The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart), like much of the rest of Yeats, is unbeatable. I didn't realize at the time that it had a subtitle; if I did realize it had this particular subtitle (Poems for Men), I wouldn't have bought it. My negative intuition toward the subtitle proved correct. Lots of weird stuff in the introduction and introductory essays in the chapters about Men as this difficult to understand primordial being. Lots of stuff about "in our meetings with groups of men" (what on earth are these meetings like? what transpires in a group of men out to talk about Man Stuff while using poetry?). Then come the chapters which mix interesting and good, like eclectic collections which bring in lots of tribal and non-Western poems which most readers probably haven't experienced, and simply strange, like the "Earthly Love" section, whose unstated goal appears to have been to gather all the extant poems in any language which involve explicit reference to testicles. The volume also fails to provide any biographical or even time period data for any of the poets it quotes, thereby failing as a source of useful introduction. It did, however, give me the following line: "men who talk to themselves hope to talk to God someday," and that was worth all of the frustrations. (Except-- wait-- who is this guy Antonio Machado? Now I'm upset again.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Painful. About twenty-five years ago, a man named Robert Bly wrote a book titled Iron John: A Book About Men. Bly was a poet, and his view of manhood was...soft, I guess. Drumming circles, wilderness retreats, self-help circles with a lot of crying, sweat lodges, whatever. I read the book and thought, "No." Jonesing for some poetry, I picked up this anthology and came to regret it very quickly. 10% of the poems are okay. 90% are awful. I never knew how much Federico Garcia Lorca sucked (but he's Painful. About twenty-five years ago, a man named Robert Bly wrote a book titled Iron John: A Book About Men. Bly was a poet, and his view of manhood was...soft, I guess. Drumming circles, wilderness retreats, self-help circles with a lot of crying, sweat lodges, whatever. I read the book and thought, "No." Jonesing for some poetry, I picked up this anthology and came to regret it very quickly. 10% of the poems are okay. 90% are awful. I never knew how much Federico Garcia Lorca sucked (but he's definitely tied with Ranier Maria Rilke). This was awful. I don't know what kind of manhood this poetry would inspire, but it's not my kind. I may actually burn this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter Ruark

    Looking forward to reading this anthology, which I picked up from a used book sale for a dollar and a half. I remain skeptical about the claims of the mythopoetic men's movement (i.e. Bly's writing in the introduction that that the problem with men in the post-industrial West is that they, like Tom Sawyer, want to be wild with Huck Finn instead of domesticated by Aunt Polly), but I see that as a product of the late 1980s, a response to a near-decade of Reagan-era yuppyism, conformity, and consum Looking forward to reading this anthology, which I picked up from a used book sale for a dollar and a half. I remain skeptical about the claims of the mythopoetic men's movement (i.e. Bly's writing in the introduction that that the problem with men in the post-industrial West is that they, like Tom Sawyer, want to be wild with Huck Finn instead of domesticated by Aunt Polly), but I see that as a product of the late 1980s, a response to a near-decade of Reagan-era yuppyism, conformity, and consumeristic materialism. Stripped of its Iron John context, however, this looks like a good batch of poetry. I respect and appreciate Bly's contributions to the translation of important poets and his gift for assembling anthologies to introduce more people to poetry. I will write more later, when I delve into this collection.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burchfield

    I first read this volume in 1992/93 and return to it to this day. The selection of poems, organized under various sub-categories, were pure gold for me. Everyone won't see it the same - but for where I was on my personal journey at the time I first read it, and the way my life has unfolded since, the poems feed my soul. For men who want to begin reading poetry it is a good introduction; and for young males seeking to solidify their identity, the essays and poems are very helpful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Taylor-French

    I love this collection of great male poets. None of these poems exclude women. The breadth and depth of the writing will never become old fashioned. I recommend this book to men and women. For spiritual seekers here lies a vast world of possibility, freedom and reconciliation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Lopez

    Originally purchased for a poetry class (for good reason, as it's a perfect introductory book of poems with its charming thematic sections) and then brought along as companion through England. Now in the hands of a friend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Solid anthology edited by Robert Bly, consisting of poems about the various phases of men's lives, for the most part by men. Fortunately the editors include enough women to make it at least partially inclusive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Donaldson

    I'm not one for poetic anthologies, but this one is an exception. Most collections are weakly cohesive at best, but this book feels right of size and shape. One of those volumes that is perfectly weighed in the human hand.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessie B.

    An interesting and eclectic selection of poems.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Gorton

    I’ve gone back to this book countless times. The poems here have been a guide for growing up.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Absolutely excellent.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Badgley

    Brilliant anthology of poetry, and it includes a couple from Bob Dylan. Cannot beat that!

  23. 4 out of 5

    HarryB

    Spectacular stories and poems for men

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Day

    This 560-page poetry collection (genre) paperback first-edition book was published in 1993 by Harper Perennial and it fits under the Book Bingo square “Lots of Pages!”. This book is a collection of more than 400 poems from a wide variety of sources ranging from ancient tribal songs to famous poets such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Three editors consisting of a psychologist, a scholar, and a translator collaborated together to compile this stunning poetry anthology. The poems were catego This 560-page poetry collection (genre) paperback first-edition book was published in 1993 by Harper Perennial and it fits under the Book Bingo square “Lots of Pages!”. This book is a collection of more than 400 poems from a wide variety of sources ranging from ancient tribal songs to famous poets such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Three editors consisting of a psychologist, a scholar, and a translator collaborated together to compile this stunning poetry anthology. The poems were categorized under sixteen different subjects, from “war” to “zaniness”, and varied in the country of origin and language, from Eskimo to India (thus the translator played an essential role in the publication of this book). Some poems were written thousands of years ago, while some were written only several years before the book was published. For the most part, the poems were dull or difficult to understand, with some inappropriate content and profanity. for a person who is not a poetry fanatic, this book would not be worthwhile to read. Therefore, it deserves a rating of three stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    The best book of poetry I ever read, as a young man seeking a masculine identity in a world unfriendly toward hearts and bones all too easily broken, no matter what. The editors and contributors to this anthology, some of whom I've had the pleasure to meet in person, and exchange thoughts, if only briefly, have read nearly everything germane to the themes they address. The poetry is arranged and organized by minds with big hearts and decades of writing accolades particular to their capacities as The best book of poetry I ever read, as a young man seeking a masculine identity in a world unfriendly toward hearts and bones all too easily broken, no matter what. The editors and contributors to this anthology, some of whom I've had the pleasure to meet in person, and exchange thoughts, if only briefly, have read nearly everything germane to the themes they address. The poetry is arranged and organized by minds with big hearts and decades of writing accolades particular to their capacities as poets, philosophers, psychologists, ... in the end you realize that those 3 p's are in league with and intimately related to one another. (A genealogy of such consciousness is available upon request.) I've never dog-eared or bookmarked or underscored or annotated a book like I have "The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart" ... nor has any anthology of poetry inspired me to read deeply and wide of its authors, its contents & themes, however defined. My lord, I dare say it helped to save my life. No joking. -kb

  26. 4 out of 5

    James

    An amazing anthology of poetry from a mix of traditions and cultures. A short list of included poets: Galway Kinnell, Rumi, Yeats, Bukowski, Lorca, Neruda, Rilke, Li Po, Dickinson, etc. With Robert Bly as one of the editors (along with a psychiatrist and a scholar of myth), the collection is very focused on men and male poets, though female poets are represented as well. It probably also includes too many of Bly's own poems. The collection is organized by subject matter around the different mood An amazing anthology of poetry from a mix of traditions and cultures. A short list of included poets: Galway Kinnell, Rumi, Yeats, Bukowski, Lorca, Neruda, Rilke, Li Po, Dickinson, etc. With Robert Bly as one of the editors (along with a psychiatrist and a scholar of myth), the collection is very focused on men and male poets, though female poets are represented as well. It probably also includes too many of Bly's own poems. The collection is organized by subject matter around the different moods and themes men experience in their lives - dealing with mothers (Mother Nature, Mother Earth, and their own biological mothers), zaniness, wildness, "loving the world anyway"). While sometimes the organization seems a bit forced, there is so much great poetry gathered in this one place, it is difficult to quibble. Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    The Healing I am not a mechanism; an assembly of various sections. And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill. I am ill because of wounds deep to the soul, to the deep emotional self and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help And patience, and a certain difficult repentance, Long difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake Which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify. -D.H. The Healing I am not a mechanism; an assembly of various sections. And it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill. I am ill because of wounds deep to the soul, to the deep emotional self and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help And patience, and a certain difficult repentance, Long difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself from the endless repetition of the mistake Which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify. -D.H. LAWRENCE

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christine Potter

    I bought this for my husband a couple of years ago to introduce him to the kind of poetry I write; his education had stopped with Whitman (which isn't really such a bad thing). Ended up reading through it myself, and it's a very good selection of old and new, nicely sorted into various topics. It's not so Iron-John-drum-beating that women would feel left out as readers, and it's hugely readable in general. A good book to thumb through when one is feeling uninspired.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    A easily accessible anthology that will introduce you to a wide variety of poets and poetry. If you are looking for an anthology that you can pick up without having to spend hours searching for a gem, than this is the place to start. Full disclosure: I've listened to Robert Bly read poetry live and I trust his judgment so much that when I approach some of the more difficult poems found in Rag & Bone I'm always confident that if I stick it out I'll be rewarded. Happy Reading. A easily accessible anthology that will introduce you to a wide variety of poets and poetry. If you are looking for an anthology that you can pick up without having to spend hours searching for a gem, than this is the place to start. Full disclosure: I've listened to Robert Bly read poetry live and I trust his judgment so much that when I approach some of the more difficult poems found in Rag & Bone I'm always confident that if I stick it out I'll be rewarded. Happy Reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    A Gonzales

    My copy of this book is tattered and torn, and filled with sand from accompanying me through hikes in the desert. Bly curates a beautiful collection of poems that wander from childhood love of one's father, to first nights with unforgettable women in our lives, to mourning the death of our parents. The collection was and remains a roadmap for discovery of poets as I get older, as I have moved from young wanderer to fatherhood.

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