Friday, October 23, 2009

A Blessing, a poem by James Wright.

Post 353 - I have so much poetry in my collection, it's always difficult to choose Friday's poem to publish here. So today, here's a very fine American poet I suspect most of you don't know. James Arlington Wright was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, in 1927. He attended Kenyon College on the G.I. Bill, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1952. He then went to Austria on a Fulbright Fellowship and studied at the University of Vienna. He returned to the U.S. and earned master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Washington. He went on to teach at The University of Minnesota, which did not believe he had the qualifications to become a tenured professor there so he moved to nearby Macalester College, and later to New York City's Hunter College. He was elected a fellow of The Academy of American Poets in 1971, and the following year his Collected Poems received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He died in New York City in 1980 after a chronic sore throat was diagnosed as cancer of the tongue. Each year, hundreds of writers gather to pay tribute at the James Wright Poetry Festival in Martin's Ferry.

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 Above the River: The Complete Poems, which features a moving and insightful introduction by Donald Hall, Wright's longtime friend and colleague.

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