Library of Congress

Poetry and Literature

The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature> Poet Laureate > Past Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry 180 > Full List of Poems > Poem 072
{ site_name: 'Poetry', subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress/poetry.php' }

Back to Full List of 180 Poems

Gratitude to Old Teachers

When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight-
We were students then-holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.

—Robert Bly

from Eating the Honey of Words, 1999
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY

Copyright 1999 by Robert Bly.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers from Eating the Honey of Words. Copyright 1999 by Robert Bly. For further permissions information, contact Subsidiary Rights Department, 6th floor, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 10 East 53 Street, New York, NY 10022, Rights information line: (212) 207-7791,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Robert Bly (1926- ) is the author of over thirty poetry collections, including Like the New Moon I will Live my Life (White Pine Press, 2015).

Learn more about Robert Bly at The Poetry Foundation.