James Arlington Wright

James Arlington Wright Poems

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
...

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
...

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
...

The moon drops one or two feathers into the fiels.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
...

The night's drifts
Pile up below me and behind my back,
Slide down the hill, rise again, and build
Eerie little dunes on the roof of the house.
...

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
...

7.

I was only a young man
In those days. On that evening
The cold was so God damned
Bitter there was nothing.
...

Still,
I would leap too
Into the light,
If I had the chance.
...

Near the dry river's water-mark we found
Your brother Minnegan,
Flopped like a fish against the muddy ground.
Beany, the kid whose yellow hair turns green,
...

Relieved, I let the book fall behind a stone.
I climb a slight rise of grass.
I do not want to disturb the ants
Who are walking single file up the fence post,
...

After dark
Near the South Dakota border,
The moon is out hunting, everywhere,
Delivering fire,
...

Dark cypresses--
The world is uneasily happy;
It will all be forgotten.
--Theodore Storm
...

Why should we do this? What good is it to us? Above all,
how can we do such a thing? How can it possibly be done?

--Freud
...

1

Many animals that our fathers killed in America
Had quick eyes.
...

Lured by the wall, and drawn
To stare below the roof,
Where pigeons nest aloof
From prowling cats and men,
...

17.

It can't be the passing of time that casts
That white shadow across the waters
Just offshore.
I shiver a little, with the evening.
...

I will grieve alone,
As I strolled alone, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds
...

Give me this time, my first and severe
Italian, a poem about gold,
The left corners of eyes, and the heavy
Night of the locomotives that brought me here,
...

And how can I, born in evil days
And fresh from failure, ask a kindness of Fate?

-- Written A.D. 819
...

James Arlington Wright Biography

James Arlington Wright was an American poet. Wright first emerged on the literary scene in 1956 with The Green Wall, a collection of formalist verse that was awarded the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Prize. But by the early 1960s, Wright, increasingly influenced by the Spanish language surrealists, had dropped fixed meters. His transformation achieved its maximum expression with the publication of the seminal The Branch Will Not Break (1963), which positioned Wright as curious counterpoint to the Beats and New York schools, which predominated on the American coasts. This transformation had not come by accident, as Wright had been working for years with his friend Robert Bly, collaborating on the translation of world poets in the influential magazine The Fifties (later The Sixties). Such influences fertilized Wright's unique perspective and helped put the Midwest back on the poetic map. Wright had discovered a terse, imagistic, free verse of clarity, and power. During the next ten years Wright would go on to pen some of the most beloved and frequently anthologized masterpieces of the century, such as "A Blessing," "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio," and "I Am a Sioux Indian Brave, He Said to Me in Minneapolis." Technically, Wright was an innovator, especially in the use of his titles, first lines, and last lines, which he used to great dramatic effect in defense of the lives of the disenfranchised. He is equally well known for his tender depictions of the bleak landscapes of the post-industrial American Midwest. Since his death, Wright has developed a cult following, transforming him into a seminal writer of ever increasing influence. Each year, hundreds of writers gather to pay tribute at the James Wright Poetry Festival in Martins Ferry. Wright's son Franz Wright is also a poet. Together they are the only parent/child pair to have won a Pulitzer Prize in the same category (Poetry). Life Poetry Wright's early poetry is relatively conventional in form and meter, especially compared with his later, looser poetry. His work with translations of German and South American poets, as well as the influence of Robert Bly, had considerable influence on his own poems; this is most evident in The Branch Will Not Break, which departs radically from the formal style of Wright's previous book, Saint Judas. In addition to his own poetry, he also published loose translations of René Char's hermetic poems. His poetry often deals with the disenfranchised, or the outsider, American; yet it is also often inward probing. Wright suffered from depression and bipolar mood disorders and also battled alcoholism his entire life. He experienced several nervous breakdowns, was hospitalized, and was subjected to electroshock therapy. His dark moods and focus on emotional suffering were part of his life and often the focus of his poetry, although given the emotional turmoil he experienced personally, his poems are often remarkably optimistic in expressing a faith in life and human transcendence. His seminal 1963 volume The Branch Will Not Break is one example of his belief in the human spirit. His 1972 Collected Poems was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In addition to his other awards, Wright received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.)

The Best Poem Of James Arlington Wright

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

James Arlington Wright Comments

dheivanaikavi 18 June 2018

want judas poem lines

0 2 Reply
Warren Falcón 10 July 2016

I am stunned to see James Wright dislilked by readers on this site. Wright was and is one of the master American poets of the mid-twenteth century, and he can still tune and shape the aspiring would be poet's own eye, ear and vision. If folks on here confuse cheap rhymes (any fool can rhyme) , pompous language, schmaltz, and pablum-scrolls on love, loss, God, high ideals, the virtues of seeming, then Wright's mastery is not for them. I challenge the dislikers to write, say, a poem about beauty without using the word or its cousins, to convey beauty via images and word music such as that myriad beauty will be. Wright can teach you much, very much. Let they who are in despair of the all too-human-world, they who have ears to hear and heart-eyes to see nurture themselves in, with, through, for and by James Wright's quiet poetry evoking beauty/duende in all private human experience, let them remain faithful to that which he and his poems aspire to, the ineffible, the sacrelity of the mundane while enamored of a broken world continually astonished before and after the rain.

9 1 Reply
Peter Stavropoulos 26 May 2012

Sensitive Poet of Love and loneliness.

10 1 Reply

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