Monday, November 22, 2010

The Third Body, by Robert Bly

The Third Body

A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do
  not long
At this moment to be older, or younger, or born
In any other nation, or any other time, or any other
They are content to be where they are, talking or not
Their breaths together feed someone whom we do
  not know.
The man sees the way his fingers move;
He sees her hands close around a book she hands to
They obey a third body that they share in common.
They have promised to love that body.
Age may come; parting may come; death will come!
A man and a woman sit near each other;
As they breathe they feed someone we do not know,
Someone we know of, whom we have never seen.

by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words, 1999


  1. Always a favorite, thank you Iron John..💖

  2. Heard this for first time on UK, BBC Radio4 prog suggested by friend. Title of prog is "Something Understood". Beautiful. My case rests!....mbx

  3. Oh my, describes my morning so perfectly I could never have written. I needed something to remember it. Thank you, Robert Bly.

  4. I came across this poem while reading Bill Moyer's book The Language of Life, a collection of interviews with contemporary poets. I was so moved reading it, and it instantly made me think of my niece and her husband, expecting their first child and that interplay of joy and nervousness that they poem possesses. Finishing reading it and returning to the interview I was amused to find that it was not intended to be of a couple expecting a baby but the spirit that grows between this couple as a third entity! LOL I thought, 'Oh well...' it still fits for my interpretation, and made a congratulation card for them using the poem and a pic of an expectant couple, and then designed a faux stain glass window suncatcher incorporating the poem and the image of an expectant couple that I'll make for them as a birth gift. If you'd like to see it go to my face book page at since I can't attach it here.

  5. I selected this to be read at my wedding ceremony in 1994. I watched a video of the event just the other day. I was so glad to share 25 wonderful years with my wife. We were content to be where we were.

    1. I just discovered this poem in the midst of my grief.
      Someone(s) have experienced and knows, from their heart, what we shared (share). I am so in awe of it. I believe.unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed.