Call and Answer
Tell me why it is we don’t lift our voices these days
And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed
The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?
I say to myself: “Go on, cry. What’s the sense
Of being an adult and having no voice? Cry out!
See who will answer! This is Call and Answer!”
We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.
Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence? If we don’t lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.
How come we’ve listened to the great criers—Neruda,
Akhmatova, Thoreau, Frederick Douglass—and now
We’re silent as sparrows in the little bushes?
Some masters say our life lasts only seven days.
Where are we in the week? Is it Thursday yet?
Hurry, cry now! Soon Sunday night will come.
~Robert Bly [August 2002]
The Insanity of Empire: A Book of Poems Against the Iraq War.
In this 2004 release, Robert Bly collects some of his earlier poems and adds new poems that address the Iraq War and some of the ominous implications of that serious step taken by the Republican administration.
This collection also includes five new poems in the ghazal form, a form that contributed to the power of his book The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, published by HarperCollins in 2001. These poems include the now-famous poem "Call and Answer," which was one of the first poems written against the war, published in The Nation in August of 2002. Bly's new poems reach for that larger voice to which he has always been committed.
From a reading in Chicago, 22 October 2005:
(See the review by C. J. Laity here.)
Robert Bly at Unity Temple
Photos by Sandra Wilcoxon
The entire Robert Bly reading is now available in a free audio archive from PoetryPoetry.com: Click Here to listen to it.
For an interview with Bly prior to the Chicago reading, click here.