I’ve very interested in James Wright's poetry, particularly as it functions on a physical level. "A Blessing," especially, hits me somewhere between my heart and my stomach, and not without reason. Notice the physical language in the poem: the eyes of the ponies that darken with kindness, how they ripple tensely, bow, munch the young tufts, the speaker's desire "to hold the slenderer one in my arms," when it nuzzles his left hand, her mane, her forehead, "her long ear that is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist." On one level, "A Blessing" is a meditation on and celebration of the beauty of the anatomy of these two ponies, and by comparison (girl's wrist), a celebration of our own bodies. But with the last three lines, the poem becomes more than observation: "Suddenly I realize / That if I stepped out of my body I would break / Into blossom." With this admission, the poem becomes a record, or document of ecstasy. It plots the events that lead to the speaker's immense joy when he is able to step outside of himself, (or at least imagine that he is able to step out of himself). But what makes the poem so powerful, is that it allows the reader to take this journey as well, to experience a small piece of ecstasy, a blessing when we are nowhere near the highway, Rochester, or the two ponies.
It’s an amazing poem, one that cannot be read without some physical response. I’d love to know how it felt for you. Perhaps the hairs on your arms stood up, or the brick in your chest seemed a little lighter. Use the comments link and let me know.
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break