Loneliness and separation are two enduring themes of poet James Wright’s work, which is one of the reasons why this poem, A Blessing, is so uplifting. In the late 1950s, Wright had all but given up on his writing when he met fellow poet Robert Bly, and the two men formed a friendship and a correspondence that bolstered Wright and helped him to go on to produce some of his best work. Wright would often spend the weekend on Robert Bly’s farm in Madison, Minnesota, and it was here one day where the two men encountered a couple of horses in a pasture. Immediately Wright started noting down the lines that became one of his most famous poems and a dedication to his friend Robert Bly. Last week’s featured poet, Danielle Pieratti, pays tribute to the beautiful last lines of A Blessing in the epitaph for her poem Triptych.
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
James Wright (1927-1980)