A Review of
My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy

the winged energy of delightAs in his last collection, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars (2001), Bly explores the dynamics of the ghazal, a form established by the Islamic poets and which he crafts in tercets. His newest ghazals are ecstatic and gorgeously associative lyrics that draw on the myths and sacred texts of many cultures, various works of art ranging from a Rembrandt drawing to a painting by Robert Motherwell, and striking personal reminiscences. Bly, as he always does, is seeking the universal even as he embraces the particulars of a practice, a place, a painting, or a musical tradition. He calls out to sitar and tabla players. He writes of Adam and angels, Plato and Andrew Marvell. These are prayers, koans, warnings, assurances, and revelations. But for all the art, philosophy, and literature Bly pays homage to, it is nature that holds the key, nature that is holy. Sweet and full of longing, these are enrapturing poems about death and rebirth, humankind’s small place in the cosmos, and the great wheel of life.

—Donna Seaman, Booklist