Robert Bly wrote this poem in 1962 and I think it still rings true for the Midwest. Now that I’ve been out of the cornfields for almost a month, I’m beginning to appreciate them more…The sound of rustling stalks, the railroad tracks, factory lights on the river at night.
Bly founded the mythopoetic men’s movement which is basically a reaction to the feminist movement which sprouted in the 1980s. It emphasizes getting in touch with the “deep masculine” as modern industrial society had forced men away from the spiritual parts of themselves and homosocial interaction. As a result they became either chavenistic or effeminate, nethier which Bly considered ideal. To rectify these problems, he suggested men’s gatherings and wrote his book Iron John: A Book About Men. Regardless (or mabe because) of his slightly obscure ideas, he definitely wrote some amazing poetry. This poem is from his book Silence in the Snowy Fields.
Driving Toward the Lac Qui Parle River
I am driving; it is dusk; Minnesota.
The stubble field catches the last growth of sun.
The soybeans are breathing on all sides.
Old men are sitting before their houses on car seats
In the small towns. I am happy,
The moon rising above the turkey sheds.
The small world of the car
Plunges through the deep fields of the night,
On the road from Willmar to Milan.
This solitude covered with iron
Moves through the fields of night
Penetrated by the noise of crickets.
Nearly to Milan, suddenly a small bridge,
And water kneeling in the moonlight.
In small towns the houses are built right on the ground;
The lamplight falls on all fours on the grass.
When I reach the river, the full moon covers it.
A few people are talking, low, in a boat.
Mark Hirsch never fails to evoke the true Wisconsin.