by James Wright
A Blessing Theme of Transformation
Who wouldn't want to be a superhero? Seriously! At a moment's notice, you transform from a mild-mannered nobody into an incredibly powerful (and usually quite attractive) champion who saves the world. Of course, transformation is not without drawbacks. There's the whole kryptonite thing. And transformation can involve a dangerous loss of control (Hulk SMASH!). Even if you don't aspire to become a superhero, life is change, and every moment offers choices that define who you will become. Of course, we all have our comfort zones—limits on our willingness to accept emotional risks and embrace change. As he contemplates stepping out of his body, how would you describe the comfort zone of the speaker in "A Blessing"? How would you describe your own attitude toward this kind of radical transformation?
Questions About Transformation
- Do you think that the speaker in "A Blessing" undergoes any significant changes during the course of the poem? Why or why not?
- Why do you think the speaker thinks about reaching out to hold the slender pony ("I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms") but doesn't actually do it?
- René Descartes—a seventeenth-century French philosopher—described the relationship between the human mind and body as "a ghost in a machine." Do you think it is possible for a person to have an "out of body" experience? Why or why not? What do you think the speaker in "A Blessing" means by the words "if I stepped out of my body"?
- Why do you think the speaker in "A Blessing" thinks about stepping "out of my body," but doesn't actually do it? Do you think the speaker is afraid to take this step? What do you think would have happened if the speaker followed through on this impulse?
Chew on This
The speaker in "A Blessing" senses a mysterious power of love in nature but maintains an intellectual distance from it. Using a poetic image to acknowledge the beauty of the experience, the speaker nonetheless refuses to surrender a rational view of the universe. Nice try, though.
Actually, props are due in full. The speaker in "A Blessing" overcomes fear of change and undergoes a process of personal transformation; by the end of the poem, the speaker has developed a new closeness to nature and openness to love.