Study Guide

A Blessing Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, (1)

"They paved paradise," sang Joanie Mitchell in "Big Yellow Taxi." There are no taxis in the first line of this poem, but the highway is surely paved, exemplifying industrial society. Does a natural paradise still exist alongside or "just off" this manmade environment?

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. (2)

Already we've left the pavement behind, finding ourselves in a grassy area at twilight. Creating an aura of enticing mystery, the personification of twilight reflects an imaginative impulse, as the speaker's awareness connects with the world of nature. The word "softly" makes the natural scene even more appealing.

They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me. (5-6)

Ambassadors of the natural world, the ponies are decidedly friendly toward the human visitors. Their welcome is inclusive, allowing for continued friendship between humans ("my friend and me") as well as between ponies and humans. There's no hint of danger—apparently nature isn't out to get us in this poem.

At home once more, (13)

The word "home" connotes comfort, security, ease, even love. The ponies already know how to be at home in nature, and their welcoming of the visitors suggests that humans may find their true home in nature, too.

For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand. (16-17)

This just gets better and better. The speaker's decision to step out of the manmade world and into the world of nature is paying off big-time. The mysterious beauties of nature are unfolding not at a distance but in an up-close and personal way. Nature herself (in the form of the pony) seems to reach out with a gentle touch, drawing the human into a closer relationship.

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