Study Guide

A Blessing Love

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Love is such a simple word, but what does it really mean? There are so many kinds of love: you love your parents (at least some of the time), your little brother (occasionally), your cat (always!), your best friend, your boyfriend/girlfriend, and your favorite pair of jeans. Plus, there's the problem of distinguishing true love from fake love (good luck with that, Bachelorette!). Still, there's a fundamental simplicity about love that we all can grasp. In the words of Paul McCartney, "We don't need anybody else to tell us what is real. Inside each one of us is love. And we know how it feels." Based on the emotional heft of "A Blessing," we'd say that James Wright would probably agree. He concluded, "What else have we got except love?"

Questions About Love

  1. Do you think of love as simple or complicated? Explain your point of view, based on your personal experience. Do you agree with Paul McCartney's suggestion that everyone intuitively knows what love is? Why or why not? How would the poem's speaker answer this question? What parts of the poem give you that idea? 
  2. Do you believe that love is limited to relationships among people, or do other species experience love as well? Why do you think so? What do you think the speaker of "A Blessing" meant by the line, "They love each other"?
  3. How does love relate to loneliness? Do you think it is possible for a person to feel loved, but still feel lonely? Why or why not? Why do you think the speaker in "A Blessing" described the ponies as both loving and lonely?
  4. Some people believe that romantic love is the highest form of love. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Do you think that the swans in "A Blessing" symbolize romantic love? If so, why do you think Wright included this symbolism in the poem?

Chew on This

The speaker in "A Blessing" is deeply touched by the love that the Indian ponies display. Their love reminds the speaker of the importance of human love, flooding him with a renewed desire to reach out to other people. All you need is love, love…love is all you need.

The speaker in "A Blessing" has a spiritual revelation in the pasture, sensing a universal spirit of love that connects all living creatures. Cosmic, dude.

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