He continued in the workshops for years with a more realistic focus. He abandoned the drums, but continued to use myth and poetry and invited women and men to discuss a range of topics, including parenting and racism.
He went on to write Rivers of poetry, edit magazines, translate works from Swedish, Norwegian, German and Spanish, and direct the Jeremiad. In “The Sibling Society” (1996), Mr. Bly advocated guiding a generation of children growing up without fathers, who were instead shaped by rock music, violent films, television, and computers in what he called the perpetual state of adolescence.
But he saw hope.
He told The Times in 1996, “The biggest influence we had was in younger men who were determined to be better fathers than theirs.”
Robert Ellwood Ble was born in Lac qui Parle County in western Minnesota on December 23, 1926, to Norwegian farmers, Jacob and Alice (Us) Ble. He graduated from high school in Madison, Minnesota, (population 600) in 1944, served two years in the Navy and studied for a year at St. Olaf’s College, in Northfield, Minnesota, later moving to Harvard.
“One day while studying Yeats’ poem I decided to write poetry for the rest of my life,” he recalls in a 1984 article in The Times. “I realized that one short poem has room for history, music, psychology, religious thought, mood, vague speculations, personality, and events in one’s life.”
After graduating in 1950, he spent several years in New York immersed in poetry.
In 1955, he married Carol MacLean, a writer. They had four children, Bridget, Mary, Micah and Noah, and divorced in 1979. In 1980, he married Ruth Ray, a Yoongi therapist. In addition to her, Mr. Bly is survived by his children; daughter-in-law of Wesley Dutta; and nine grandchildren. Samuel Ray, a stepson, died in 1984.
Mr. Bly earned his master’s degree at the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1956, then returned to Madison. In fellowship, he lived in Norway in 1956-57. In 1958, he founded a poetry magazine, The Fifties, which survived to become the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. She has published works by Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, and many others.