December 16, 2015

A Blessing

James Wright and Robert Bly began a friendship through letters. Eventually, Wright would visit Bly's farm in western Minnesota and fall in love with it. “I think your farm is the first such place I have ever really liked — it is beautifully mysterious and very much its own secret place.”

He began taking the train out there every Friday after classes, and staying for the weekend, sleeping in an old converted chicken coop, which was heated by an oil stove.

On Saturday mornings, he would come into the farmhouse for breakfast, go back out, and return at lunch with a poem. He said of the Blys: “They loved me and they saved my life. I don’t mean the life of my poetry, either.”

One day Bly and Wright were driving home from another friend’s farm when they passed two horses in a pasture. They stopped and got out to see the horses, and in the car Wright began writing a poem in a spiral notebook. That became one of his most beloved poems, “A Blessing.”

A Blessing

by James Wright

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.

from Collected Poems

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