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Kabir: Ecstatic Poems [Kindle Edition]

Robert Bly
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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"Ten Windows" by Jane Hirshfield
Hirshfield explores how poetry’s world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. See more

Book Description

Originally published in 1976, with more than 75,000 copies in print, this collection of poems by fifteenth-century ecstatic poet Kabir is full of fun and full of thought. Columbia University professor of religion John Stratton Hawley has contributed an introduction that makes clear Kabir's immense importance to the contemporary reader and praises Bly's intuitive translations.

By making every reader consider anew their religious thinking, the poems of Kabir seem as relevant today as when they were first written.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


Kabir's poems give off a marvelous radiant intensity that never fails…they have exactly the luminous depth that permits and invites many rereadings.—Hayden Carruth, New York Times Book Review

"One of the luminous experiences of American poetry… Kabir is a poet who connects the modes of thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation at every turn of thought and phrase."—Jonathan Cott, Rolling Stone

"Robert Bly earns the thanks of us all. I, for one, will reread [Bly's Kabir] often. Kabir can be seen as a welcome member to that brotherhood of mystic American poets, novelists and painters."—Paul Carroll, The American Poetry Review

"Without Bly, modern American poetry would be unrecognizable in its current form. Without his poems, his translations, and his devotion to poetry, American literature would have taken a different turn in its rich and influential history." —Ray González, The Bloomsbury Review

About the Author

Robert Bly has earned many honors for his original poems, which include The Winged Energy of Delight, and for his translations of twenty-two poets, including Kabir. He is the author of the bestseller Iron John, and with Jane Hirshfield has published a new translation of Mirabai (Beacon / 6386-6 / $16.00).

Product Details

  • File Size: 4123 KB
  • Print Length: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (August 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005FFV2MK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,461 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Bly's amazing translation July 22, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautiful translation of one of my favorite mystic poets! Robert Bly's translation of Kabir allows us to experience this mystic poet in a personal way without losing any of the beauty of the poetry. Really enjoyed this book.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing Wisdom April 20, 2004
It's so hard to find WISDOM these days...
not "moral/ethical" wisdom, or "financial" wisdom,
So few people are interested in the subject of
actually experiencing divine ecstasy...they're too
tied down by dogma, worship of imagery & robotic
ceremonies, etc. That's why this Kabir book by Mr. Bly
is so a real literary Oasis.
It's LOADED with wisdom of the divine ecstasy kind.
I don't care about any translation controversies...
I just approach the book as its own entity...and
understand the ecstatic wisdom it radiates.
I want to thank Mr. Bly for producing this book of
ecstatic wisdom poetry...there's so little of it
available. THANK YOU MR. BLY.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sufi and Indian depth combined September 9, 2004
Indeed these poems are of such a depth that it is difficult to render their content. Let's say it's the Sufi tradition in full. Just glimpses of the Absolute Truth expressed in words. Let the power of the sound embrace your whole being. Excellent!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A window to a different world July 11, 2008
"We are all struggling; none of us has gone far." Perhaps not, but the world presented in these poems of a Bhakti, devotion is a different, further, place, one of struggle yet, but also of ecstatic love. Kabir is a poet from India Fourteenth century, while Bly a poet of our time. He tries to bring this home with specifics for our age, for example, "a loaded gun" rather than "deadly weapon" . These are not translation, but are Robert Bly's "versions". Divided into 4 sections "The Gardener is Coming", "The Wanting Creature", "The Bride Want Her Lover", and "The Guest is Inside You". There are some startling lines in these poems; for example:
if you can't find where your soul is hidden, for you the world will never be real.

When you're trying to find a hardwood forest, it seems wise to know what a tree is.

There is a moon in my body, but I can't see it.

This short book is rich, the short introduction gives a setting of Kabir, while the poems themselves are nicely illustrated for example "Krishna with Flute", help to give an otherworldly effect. The afterward by John Hawley, helps to locate Bly, and proposes a connection from Thoreau to Bly.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Good that we are getting exposed to the name of Kabir. But... These in the main are not genuine Kabir poems nor represent accurately his message.
They are not even translations of inauthentic Kabir poems.
These are Robert Bly's modernised 'versions' of Tagore's English translation from a Bengali translation of inauthentic Kabir poems.
It appears to be a particularly modern and peculiar self-deceit -- when we have the option now of knowing all this to a degree not possible in previous centuries -- to pass these off to ourselves and each other as accurately representing the thought of the iconoclastic fifteenth century weaver of Varanasi.

O servant, where dost thou seek Me? Lo! I am beside thee.
I am neither in temple nor in mosque: I am neither in Kaaba nor in Kailash.
Neither am I in rites and ceremonies, nor in Yoga and renunciation.
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at once see Me: thou shalt meet Me in a moment of time.
Kabir says, "O Sadhu! God is the breath of all breath."

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals: not in masses, nor kirtans.
Not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly -
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath."

So just be aware that this book is a distortion twice removed from Kabir's own poetic compositions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Kabir May 17, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
His poems are short and enigmatic. They bear repetition and pondering. Like Rumi, he is able to pierce to he heart of a deep subject with humor, beautiful metaphor and keen insight. He sometimes like to be a bit shocking, poking fun at established (and perhaps sacred) icons. For me his playfulness lightens up things.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome April 2, 2011
By Kaleem
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Awesome quality and nicely spaced print. The quality of the book is great. I enjoyed reading the poems but just like an translation you have to understand it won't be the same thing like the original language. Neverthless it's a good read for non-Hindi readers.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read February 8, 2010
These poems are filled with ecstatic wisdom. Refreshing and deep, containing messages about love and devotion which we all need in our journeys.
A great read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An amazing read.
Published 3 months ago by Wayne L. Halford
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 months ago by Shohreh Eftekhari
3.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Kabir
This is certainly the best of all translations. It captures the humour, beauty and mystery of Kabir without sinking into sentimentality.
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. Sparkle
5.0 out of 5 stars There are no words
For those who want to be reminded of how it is "to be swept away". Very little gives me entrée to this "realm". These translations of Kabir do so. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Gordon A. Fuqua
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect purchase
I have many books on this subject and this copy was pristine; on time; and a welcome addition to my library!
Thank you.
Published 20 months ago by Cherie
2.0 out of 5 stars Translation
Translation from original Kabir's poems is not effective. Including original poems would have made made the difference. Read more
Published 23 months ago by srao
4.0 out of 5 stars Rumi, to Hafiz, to Kabir?
Further experiences with Sufi poetry, experience, and projections of inner self.. Not a substitute for Rumi or Hafiz, yet Kabir's place in such firmament has been well-placed thru... Read more
Published on November 30, 2012 by cosimo9407
5.0 out of 5 stars Problem free transaction
Love the book. I resent being told how many words I have to use for MY review. You are making me angry with your demands for longer reviews
Published on January 5, 2012 by alta mae renton
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, moving, passionate!
The translation of a few of Kabir's works is outstanding! His devout passion just flows out of every page with beautiful language and metaphors. Read more
Published on November 1, 2011 by Kyle J. Trembley
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Deep Book
If you want things to meditate on then this is a good book. I'm not into eastern philosophy but it's still very interesting to think of the possible meaning in some of the poems. Read more
Published on September 17, 2011 by Tom
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