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This poem — set in the countryside near his hometown of Madison, Minn. — was included in Bly's first collection, "Silence in the Snowy Fields" (1962).

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.

Robert Bly, "Driving Toward the Lac Qui Parle River" from "Silence in the Snowy Fields" (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1962). Copyright © 1962 by Robert Bly. Reprinted with the permission of the family.