Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Blessing


A Blessing


 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

Into blossom.

One of the most admired American poets of his generation, James Wright (1927-80) wrote contemplative, sturdy, and generous poems with an honesty, clarity, and stylistic range matched by very few--then or now. Born to a working-class family in Ohio, Wright was educated at Kenyon College, and though he traveled to Europe and lived in New York City, in his poetry he returned in an often elegiac mode to his industrially marred but still suggestive native Midwestern landscape. Writing with a "lonely wisdom" of life's fragility, Wright has few peers; his regrets over the limits of mortality, love and language are tempered, with utmost tenderness, by a sympathetic willingness to experience and endure. In purity of image, rhythm and solitariness of tone, Wright reflects the work of his admired Theodore Roethke and Edgar Arlington Robinson, as well as that of Robert Frost, but the aura of delicately wistful dreaming evoked in matchless free verse is his alone.
In "A Blessing," Wright illustrates his love for two horses, two Indian ponies to be more exact. While he and his acquaintance are driving on the highway, they notice two ponies that are confined behind a fence. They decide to stop the car and fool around with the ponies. The occasion is night supported by line 2, "Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass."
Both Wright and his companion feel obligated to trespass, because they climbed over the dangerous fence, which is stated in line 7: "We step over the barbed wire into the pasture." That conviction by them demonstrates the passion they have for the ponies, for the barbed wire fence delivering injury is a great possibility.
These ponies are quite friendly as stated in lines 5 and 6: "They have come gladly out of the willows / To welcome my friend and me."
Line 8, "Where they have been grazing all day, alone," gives a sense of abandonment or maybe they are wild but tamed ponies, which make them tolerant to Wright and his companion.
Furthermore, they may have not been touched by humans for a long time is another reason for their carefree attitude toward the couple. Lines 9 and 10 also present the impression that the ponies have little or no human interaction at all, which makes all the sense for their ecstatic attitude while being petted.
As line 9 states: "They ripple tensely, they cannot hardly contain their happiness." This line indicates that the ponies are jumping hysterically up and down in joy. His love for one of the ponies goes a bit too far, for he compares it to a woman in lines 20 and 21: "And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear / That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist."
What happens at the end? After a simple, sensuous description of stepping over barbed wire into the field with Indian Ponies, the poem abruptly changes. The speaker (the "I" in the poem ) stops describing external action. He shifts to the inner experience of his happiness. The ponies are a blessing and being in their company blesses him with euphoria.
"Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom."
 The last two lines surprise us  with their bold originality; Rapport with the natural world is a common experience, but the speaker here reacts intensely. He expresses an imaginative level of that experience, allowing us to recognize our own feelings in a new way. If he'd ended the poem at "wrist", we could not possibly have imagined the powerful idea of spirit transforming  into blossom.