Good Example Of Literature Review On My Selected Poem

Type of paper: Literature Review

Topic: Literature, Poetry, Body, Love, Poem, Conversation, People, Feed

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/17

A Third Body

A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do  not longAt this moment to be older, or younger, or bornIn any other nation, or any other time, or any other  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 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 Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words, 2000

A Third Body, by Robert Bly

Robert Bly was born on December 23, 1926, on the family farm in western Minnesota into a Norwegian American community. He attended high school and enlisted in the navy, and upon his discharge, he spent a year at St. Olaf College and then transferred to Harvard.
Robert Bly could be called the central poet of his generation. His wide-ranging achievements as a poet, editor, critic, and translator, and vigorous work in the anti-war movements and other social causes, have made him one of the most admired, controversial, and best-known poets in the world. My impression of Robert Bly from watching him on film many times is that he is somehow larger than life.
Bly’s multitude of accomplishments have won him a Fulbright Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant. In 1968, The Light Around the Body won the National Book Award. This volume was his most controversial collection of poetry. Bly also received the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, the Minnesota Book Award for The Night Abraham Called to the Stars. And his poem, “War and Childhood,” was awarded the Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest in 2008. Quite a distinguished list of achievements and accolades. Altogether, he has published more than forty works of poetry, essays, and translations, as well as the powerful “Iron John,” a non-fiction book which celebrates sensitive manhood, and helped to introduce many men into poetry. He writes about the power of myth, meditation, Indian “ecstatic” poetry by ancient poets such as Rumi, love, and storytelling. He himself is a very powerful storyteller and a great pleasure to hear and see.
Of all of Robert Bly’s masterful poetry, I have chosen the poem, “A Third Body” to analyze because I like it so well. I think it is one of his masterpieces. The poem is, on the surface, a tale of a man and a woman sitting alone with not much going on, but in truth, it is a multi-layered poem with a great deal going on. The first half of the poem states that they are sitting peacefully, not needing or wanting anything that they don’t have. “They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking,” (Bly). They don’t yearn for anything or long for anything; they are totally fulfilled as they are.
But the next line introduces a very intriguing mystery when it says, “Their breaths together feed someone who we do not know.” (Bly). The latter part of the poem is devoted mainly to this elusive “third body that they share in common,” (Bly). which they have promised to love and honor. At first one might think on the surface, and conclude that he is talking about a child or someone else, but my interpretation, and thus my thesis, is that the “third body” is the relationship that has developed between them over many years—a body to be nurtured and cherished as if it were somehow a separate body. So Bly is talking about a metaphorical body here, a metaphysical one, not a flesh and bones body.
Mary Oliver Roger Housden says in Ten Poems That Can Change Your Life, “Being where they are in the simplicity and fullness of the moment is entirely sufficient . Imagine the deep rest that is inherent in such a condition, how rare in this agitated world.” To sit quietly with one’s partner and lack for nothing, to enter a kind of meditative space, is indeed a gift. And, “As they breathe they feed someone we do not know, Someone we know of, whom we have never seen.” (Bly).
These lines seem to confirm my thesis, that it is the great love between these two people that comprises the “third body.” Probably they have been together for a long time, and others know of the love that they share, but no one has actually seen that love because love is invisible, and only really palpable to the two people who share it. That third body would not even exist if these two people had never met each other. These people are so quietly but deeply in love that they even share the same spiritual body. They share an intense connection to each other. They notice the subtlest little movements of each other’s fingers, and they breathe together. These are two people who have achieved a bonding so deep that they are almost like one person.
But instead of expressing them as one person, Bly has chosen to describe them as three, and here I’ll express my thesis again: that the third body is the spiritual body that these people have created over many years together. ”Age may come; parting may come; death will come!” says Bly, but not even the knowledge of that seems to affect them very much in this very special moment that would look mundane to the observer. It is through the sharing of the mundane that we truly learn to love, not the times when fireworks are going off.
Mary Oliver Roger Housden said of Bly. “A personal sense of divine runs through his work. For Bly the world is full of presences seen and unseen.” Her statement is confirmed by one that Bly made himself, on the occasion of having finished his very first poem: “I had the strangest sensation. I felt something in the poem I hadn’t intended to put there. It was as if “someone else was with me.” (Bly, Paris Review). It would seem that someone else has been with Robert Bly and in his writing all along!

Works Cited

Bly, Robert, Eating the Honey of Words, New York; Harper Perennial, 2000 (Web)
Oliver, Mary & Housden, Roger. Ten Poems That Can Change Your Life. New York: Harmony Publishing, 2001. (Web)
The Paris Review, An Interview with Robert Bly, The Art of Poetry No. 79 (Web)

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