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A Blessing

A Blessing

by James Wright

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

The title of Wright's poem has strong religious connotations. As a verb, the word "blessing" means "the act of making something holy." As a noun, it most often refers to a religious act involving God's help. The word "blessing" can also refer to a prayer of gratitude before a meal. But the poem itself seems to be about ponies, not churches. Plus, Wright has publicly stated, "I don't believe in God." So what's up with the religious title?

Many folks who don't go to church or don't even believe in traditional concepts of God still describe themselves as spiritual, and they often use religious terms such as "blessing" in non-churchy ways. For example, James Wright once described an experience he had while visiting the farm of fellow poet Robert Bly. Wright spent much of the day quietly hanging out with a swaybacked palomino horse named David. Later, Wright commented that he "felt blessed" by the experience.

Based on this anecdote, it's tempting to conclude that the title of "A Blessing" similarly refers to the spiritual effect of the ponies on the speaker. But, of course, we all know not to equate the writer of a poem with the speaker of a poem, right (Wright?)? Check out the "Speaker" section to refresh your memory on how tricky this issue can be.

So we should probably keep an open mind about this title. Yes, the speaker may feel blessed by the ponies. But couldn't the blessing travel in the opposite direction? After all, the ponies seem awfully happy to see these human visitors: maybe the ponies feel blessed by the people. Or maybe some larger, loving force in the universe is blessing both the ponies and the people. Like all good titles of all good poems, this title just gets more interesting the more you think about it.

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