“A Navajo Blanket” is a fourteen-line poem in two stanzas of equal length. In the poem, May Swenson is describing the dazzling colors and distinctive designs of a traditional blanket made by the Navajos of the American Southwest. The colors and shapes of the blanket make her think of what the blanket represents—the Navajo people, their culture, landscape, and ceremonies. In this meditation on the blanket, however, she is also writing about an experience in which the individual undergoes a transformation of consciousness through the experience of a work of art.
The appearance of the two stanzas of the poem on the page suggests the shape and design of the blanket. The lines of words across the page are like the rows of thread in a weaving, and the shape of the whole poem is generally rectangular with a zone of space like a band of white across the center. The words “paths” and “maze” describe what the blanket’s design looks like and announce that the poet is going to draw the reader into a complex experience, simply as the pattern and color of the blanket draw the eye into its complex design. The first stanza leads the reader into the maze pattern of the blanket, and the second stanza leads the reader out, a movement that seems to imitate the balanced pattern of the blanket itself. She moves through the various associations and states of mind evoked by the blanket, from being dazzled and disturbed by its brightness, to being calmed at its center, and finally,...
(The entire section is 608 words.)