The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men

Robert W. Bly, Editor, James Hillman, Editor, Michael Meade, Editor
Robert W. Bly, Editor, James Hillman, Editor, Michael Meade, Editor HarperCollins Publishers $25 (536p) ISBN 978-0-06-016744-8
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 560 pages - 978-0-06-092420-1
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It is hard not to criticize any anthology that is so bent on having a ``purpose.'' To subsume poems under a single theme is always risky, and to enroll them in a cause detracts from their artistic nature. The poets selected here--everyone from Hesiod to Yeats, Li Po to Dickinson--are first-rate, but for that very reason their work is multi-dimensional, thus hardly about, let alone ``for,'' men. The editors have organized the book into subjects such as ``Mother and Great Mother,'' war, father, ``Wildness'' and love. Their introductions to each section too often leap from the reality of men's feelings to abstractions, Jungian archetypes and myths. As advice for reading poems, their observation that ``for men depression is sometimes the entrance to the soul'' hardly seems helpful, and as psychology it comes close to the old masculine cliche that pain is good and one should suffer one's feelings stoically. But even if the anthology is all too manly, it contains many great poems which speak to us all regardless of sex. And, like the men's movement itself, the book bespeaks a genuine interest in overhauling conventional notions about what is masculine. Bly ( Iron John ) is a poet; Hillman ( Re-Visioning Psychology ) is a psychologist; Meade is a scholar of myth. $50,000 ad/promo. (Sept.)
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