A Little Book on the Human Shadow by Robert Bly

By Robert Bly

A paperback reissue from the bestselling writer of "Iron John." A "penetrating and incredible little quantity that sheds new gentle at the Shadow. . . . A clean and severe language and symbols for describing the unrevealed."--Joan Halifax, former president, The Ojai origin

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The audience wants a poet, a hired gun, to come in from out of town. Everybody in this audience should be writing their own poems. We have talked of our personal bag, but each town or community also seems to have a bag. I lived for years near a small Minnesota farm town. Everyone in the town was expected to have the same objects in the bag; a small Greek town clearly would have different objects in the bag. It’s as if the town, by collective psychic decision, puts certain energies in the bag, and tries to prevent anyone from getting them out.

When the soft male loses a relationship, it is usually broken by the woman. At Lama Commune a man told me that every serious relationship there broken off in the last three years was broken by the woman. ” When the witch reenters we could say a certain crispness enters into the man. A man then who has projected his witch out eventually feels diminished; and it’s very important that he feel that pain deeply, hold to it, keep the pain of it. He may notice that what `he is best at is empathy, listening to others’ pain, going with the flow; and he may be capable only of that, but the power the witch has to want what she wants, he doesn’t possess.

The lumber pile does not grow younger, nor the two-by-fours lose their darkness, but the old tree goes on, the barn stands without help so many years; the advocate of darkness and night is not lost. The horse steps up, swings on one leg, turns its body, the chicken flapping claws onto the roost, its wings whelping and walloping, but what is primitive is not to be shot out into the night and the dark. And slowly the kind man comes closer, loses his rage, sits down at table. So I am proud only of those days that pass in undivided tenderness, when you sit drawing, or making books, stapled, with messages to the world, or coloring a man with fire coming out of his hair.

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