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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Study Questions

A Blessing Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Winston Churchill once said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." What do you think Churchill meant by this statement? Do you think Wright would agree or disagree? What parts of the poem lead you to your ideas? 
  2. Imagine that you are James Wright. Explain why you chose to write "A Blessing" in free verse.
  3. If the ponies in "A Blessing" had been identified simply as ponies, rather than as "Indian" ponies, would your emotional response to the poem be different? Why or why not?
  4. Some critics suggest that Wright's poems tend toward sentimentality, but others strongly disagree.The word "sentimental" can connote exaggerated, false, or self-indulgent emotions—in other words, "sappy." How would you respond if a critic described "A Blessing" as sentimental? Why would you feel that way?
  5. "A Blessing" is included in The Branch Will Not Break, a collection of Wright's poetry published in 1963. Commenting on the collection, Wright said: "At the center of that book is my rediscovery of the abounding delight of the body that I had forgotten about." Do you think that "A Blessing" expresses this idea? Why or why not? How does this idea relate to the idea of stepping "out of my body" in line 23 of the poem?
  6. Imagine that you have been asked to provide a picture to illustrate the last three lines of "A Blessing" ("Suddenly I realize / That if I stepped out of my body I would break / Into blossom"). Find a picture online or in a print book/magazine, and explain your choice. If you prefer, you may draw/paint your own picture.
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