By James Wright
Larkin’s poem about Brown Jack, click here, reminded me of this. It neither rhymes, nor scans, but it’s accessible and by golly it captures the moment – Larkin would have approved.
In 1958 Wright was driving back with his friend the poet Robert Bly from a visit to Bill Duffy and his Swedish wife Christina in Pine Island. He was going through a bad patch. His marriage was breaking up over his affair with crazy Anne Sexton (click here), he was drinking heavily and about to lose his job. He’d just written the puzzling Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota (click here).
He started A Blessing back in the car after they’d stopped to pet the ponies, and omitted all his troubles; perhaps Lying in a Hammock, perhaps the ponies, had sorted him out. Whatever the cause, the result is pure celebration, one of the best loved poems of the 20th century.
Years later Wright’s most famous pupil, Garrison Keillor, engineered the placing of a plaque at the spot. Here’s a poor quality picture. I’d love a better one. It’s on Interstate-90, at the eastbound High Forest rest area, near Stewartville.