Monday, February 13, 2012

Tuesday Poem--A Blessing by James Wright

This is probably James Wright's most well-known poem.

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.
James Wright


  1. I love the way this poem catches a sense of ecstasy in life.

  2. Amazing. What a meeting between gentle souls. I love the analogy with bowing wet swans - so humble and tender. This poem really moved me - thank you for sharing James' work, Melissa.

  3. As Helen and Elizabeth have said, and the weightlessness of connection, so lovely, so unquantifiable. xo

  4. Helen, ecstasy is just what it is, but so very quiet and deep, taken in so gently and so far. How lucky James was to experience it.

  5. Dear Elizabeth, I love this poem so much because nature for once comes gently forward to meet the human, and it is so moving that the greeting is on its own terms--each quietly, curiously, wonderfully advancing and accepting the nature of the other. You're so very welcome. James is one of my favorite modern poets--a heartbroken, alcoholic but with the deftest, most loving touch in the world.

    1. Again, the poet is James Wright, not James. I don't know where my head is today.

  6. Yes, Marylinn, it is weightless, almost un-understandable because so very delicate and cautious, that giving way to trust which has no measure. xo

  7. This poem is ecstasy. There is something so alive about everything in it - so burstingly alive - even that old poetic chestnut 'twilight' bounds across in front of us. Like a disney cartoon, nothing is inanimate. It feels as if this poet feels the pulse of every one and every thing - as if there's no barrier, as if everything is water and he a sponge. How cruel that he is a heatbroken alcoholic. Thank you for the poem, Melissa. Truly beautiful.

  8. yes, Mary, I think you've put you finger on it. The poem is ecstasy because everything is alive to the poet. It's as if he has stepped through the membrane of all living things and in crossing over, gives us what we long for at our deepest, most humble level--communion with the Other And he has discovered Beauty there,and peace and joy.

  9. Yes, communion. The other. Fills me up.

  10. lovely, immediate, perfect--i dont have anything to add. just stopping by to appreciate.

  11. I read this the other day while eating lunch at work, and told my two co-workers to listen-up, and I read it out loud.

    Oh, what a lovely moment that was.

    Thank-you, Melissa.

  12. Thanks, Susan--lovely, immediate, perfect. That says it all.xo

  13. Dear T, I'm so glad you got to share this exquisite poem with your co-workers. It brings tears to your eyes, doesn't it? xo

  14. Melissa, yes it does.

    It's what poetry is supposed to do.

  15. The last line is pure joy. And an ear as delicate as the skin of a girl's wrist--so accurate. I rode when I was younger, and I remember the love and feel of a horse.

    This also reminds me of a trip I took with the family a few years back. In Lancaster County, we drove aimlessly, and came upon the historic Hans Herr House. We stopped and walked the grounds to find gorgeous fields and two blond ponies grazing in the distance, far from the wood pole fence. We walked toward the fence and as we did, both of the ponies came to us. They stayed a long time, by our side, begging for strokes along their muzzles and manes. It was such a beautiful connection. The kids silent as ever. When it came time for us to depart, they followed us with their dark, longing eyes until we were completely out of sight. I think we all broke into blossom that afternoon.

  16. Dear Jayne, yes, the last line is pure joy! And clearly James Wright knew horses. What a wonderful story, so profound for the kids. It sounds as if you all did break into blossom that afternoon! xo