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A Blessing
A Blessing
by James Wright
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Ponies

Symbol Analysis

When Shmoop was little, we begged Santa to bring us a pony. Even though we never got one, we still dream about ponies sometimes. Many people who don't own, or even ride, horses are still fascinated by these beautiful animals. How about you? Would you pull off a busy highway just to observe some ponies in a pasture? Even if you didn't know the biographical backstory of "A Blessing" (see the "Speaker" section), you could probably tell that the writer of this poem had some first-hand knowledge of horses, based on the realistic details in the poem. But these ponies are still poetic ponies, and they also play a symbolic role in the poem.

  • Lines 4-6: Sometimes horses aren't all that happy to see humans entering their pasture. And who can blame them? Horseback riding is probably more fun for the rider than the horse. Still, many folks will tell you that their horses are kind and loving. The ponies in Wright's poem certainly display "kindness," and they "welcome" the humans "gladly." In this sense, the ponies seem to symbolize the generous beauty of nature and the joy it offers humans who take the time to appreciate it.
  • Lines 7-8: To fully appreciate the natural world, humans must first step out of their artificial, man-made environment. As a symbol of this boundary, the barbed wire in line 7 separates the humans from the inviting natural world inhabited by the ponies. The barbed wire also confines the ponies, leaving them "alone" and blocking their desire to join the human visitors.
  • Lines 11-12: The ponies demonstrate affection for each other as well as for the human visitors. In fact, the image of swans bowing "shyly" even has symbolic associations of romantic love. Line 12 links the idea of "love" to the idea of "loneliness" (for more on this, see the "Themes" section). 
  • Lines 13-14: In line 13, the image of the ponies' pasture as a kind of "home" suggests that the humans have been fully accepted into this mysterious world of nature that may represent their true home. 
  • Lines 15-17: In these lines, the poet develops the relationship between the speaker and the pony through the use of tactile imagery—images related to the sense of touch. As readers, we can almost feel the pony's velvety muzzle nudging us. Notice the specific detail "left hand," which intensifies the image by concentrating our attention in a particular area. Even though the speaker doesn't actually wrap his arms around the pony, he imagines doing it, so we imagine it, too. Can't you just feel the warmth of pony's body?
  • Lines 20-21: The tactile imagery continues in these lines. Touched by the "light breeze," the speaker passes along the "caress" by stroking the pony's ear. Line 21 further develops the sensation by comparing the "delicate" skin of the pony's ear to the "skin over a girl's wrist."