Friday, February 13, 2015

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, nor born
in any other nation, or time, or place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking.
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 him.
They obey a third body that they share in common.
They have made a promise 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.

"The Third Body" by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 1999).

Art credit: "Together Old in Italy," painting in watercolor and ink by Miki de Goodaboom. Inspired by a couple the artist observed in Montepulciano, Tuscany.


  1. Terrific poem about a magical reality that appears in a variety of contexts including improvised music in a group of two or more as well as two people in long term relationships. Thanks for this!

  2. Marriage - 1 + 1 is always more than 2 in unison with another body ... the body of life of communal fellowship of the silent love of the creator

  3. My husband and I loved this poem...knowing a Third Body, always present, deserved our care.
    Coeleen kiebert

  4. Thank you Robert Bly, one of my favorite Ancestors, for this poignant poem that feeds me.

  5. A most beautiful, heartfelt and deep poem about connectivity and Love


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