Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"People Like Us" by Robert Bly

Here, as my first offering in a while, is a poem by Robert Bly, a lyric that says many things much better than I could ever say them; moreover, I ask you, "What does this poem say to you?"

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can’t remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can’t remember where
He was when they went to sleep. It’s
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time
To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he’s lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,
You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death you’re safe.

"People Like Us" by Robert Bly from Stealing Sugar from the Castle. © Norton, 2013.


  1. What I like about this poem, Tim, is that it is such a fine reminder that things have a way of working out. Of course tragedy and bad things happen to everyone. But you never know what will come of things...

    1. Margot, when I read the poem, I am reminded that old folks (like me) are strangers in a strange land, but comfort can be found in the kindness of strangers. Note the shameless use of two literary allusions!

    2. dear Blanche... no, i'm just fooling around.... i hope, although it's none of my business, that things went okay at the hospital...
      Bly is one of the cognoscenti, imo; i like his work... this poem is all about living in the moment; things happen that we can't predict; life is uncertain, but in that very uncerrtainty lies the seeds of joy... if thinking we can do something about the future is an illusion, then there's nothing to worry about; things happen on their own, without our help and even when we believe we have our plans locked in, the world still has it's way with us, disrupting our schemes and creating havoc with our expectations... so, accept the present and quit trying to anticipate stuff... at least that's my take on the poem...

    3. Carpe diem, Mudpuddle? Yes!

  2. This is an interesting poem. I wonder why Bly wrote it. I've often wondered if my brain began to deteriorate with dementia or senility or Alzheimers if I would understand it was happening to me. How much would I be aware of my regress?

    All we really have is Diem, no? Tomorrow is promised to no one.

    1. Clarity within confusion can happen; that has been my experience. As for beyond today, I thought you believe in resurrection and rapture, which seems like an important promise.

    2. Tim,

      I certainly do and what a wonderful promise it is!

      I was paraphrasing 1 Peter 1:24 (life is short). I was referring to the fact that all we have is today to live and cannot presume to have tomorrow on this earth.

      But for those who trust in Jesus' resurrection, we don't need to fear death.

  3. I hope that all is well with you and yours Tim.

    I think that this poem says lot and would lend itself to a lot of discussion. Among the messages that I am getting out of it is that sometimes luck is good, despite the fact that we sometimes rend to focus on the bad.