The Greek Ships
A poem by Robert Bly

When the water holes go, and the fish flop about
In the mud, they can moisten each other faintly,
But it’s best if they lose themselves in the river.

You know how many Greek ships went down
With their cargoes of wine. If we can’t get
To port, perhaps it’s best to head for the bottom.

I’ve heard that the morning dove never says
What she means. Those of us who make up poems
Have agreed not to say what the pain is.

For years Eliot wrote poems standing under
A bare light-bulb. He knew he was a murderer,
And he accepted his punishment at birth.

The sitar player is searching: now in the backyard,
Now in the old dishes left behind on the table,
Now for the suffering on the underside of a leaf.

Go ahead, throw your good name into the water.
All those who have ruined their lives for love
Are calling to us from a hundred sunken ships.

© Robert Bly from My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy
photo:CC Alexcoitus


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