Poems About Horses

Overview

A captivating anthology that celebrates one of nature’s most majestic creatures and the age-old bond between humans and horses.

All kinds of equine characters grace these pages, from magnificent warhorses to cowboys’ trusty steeds, from broken-down nags to playful colts, from wild horses to dream horses. We encounter the famous Trojan horse in Virgil’s Aeneid, and then see it from a wholly different perspective in Matthea Harvey’s whimsical “Inside the Good Idea.” Longfellow’s ...

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Overview

A captivating anthology that celebrates one of nature’s most majestic creatures and the age-old bond between humans and horses.

All kinds of equine characters grace these pages, from magnificent warhorses to cowboys’ trusty steeds, from broken-down nags to playful colts, from wild horses to dream horses. We encounter the famous Trojan horse in Virgil’s Aeneid, and then see it from a wholly different perspective in Matthea Harvey’s whimsical “Inside the Good Idea.” Longfellow’s Paul Revere defies an empire on the back of a horse, while Shakespeare’s Richard III vainly offers his kingdom for one. Robert Burns’s “Auld Farmer” dotes affectionately on his aging mare, while the mares of the king of Corinth in Paul Muldoon’s “Glaucus” devour their owner. Robert Frost’s little horse stopping by the woods is gently puzzled by human behavior, and Ted Hughes is dazzled by a stunning vision of horses at dawn: “Grey silent fragments / Of a grey silent world.”

Mythical and metaphorical horses cavort alongside vividly real animals in these poems, whether they be humble servants, noble companions, beloved friends, or emblems of the wild beauty of the world beyond our grasp.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307269256
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Series: Everyman's Library Pocket Poets
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 789,980
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 4.36 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Carmela Ciuraru

Carmela Ciuraru is the editor of the Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets anthologies Fatherhood, Motherhood, Solitude, Beat Poets, and Doggerel: Poems About Dogs. She lives in Brooklyn.

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Read an Excerpt

FOREWORD

Icons of power, speed, and civilization since they were first domesticated thousands of years ago, horses are among the most majestic creatures to wander the earth. The extent to which humans’ lives have been enriched by these animals is immeasurable: many of our most basic habits of work, play, transport, and warfare would have been impossible without them. It is no wonder that this profound relationship has inspired countless works of art, from ancient times to the present. This collection is a sampling across the centuries of the ways horses have been contemplated and celebrated in poetry.

The horse has served as warrior, laborer, mail carrier, competitive athlete, rodeo entertainer, friend, and—above al—object of wonder. In this anthology’s opening section, ‘Entering the World’, Ted Hughes offers a tender evocation of a foal’s first steps on the way to becoming ‘perfect Horse’: ‘His nose / Downy and magnetic, draws him, incredulous, / Towards his mother. And the world is warm / And careful and gentle. Touch by touch / Everything fits him together.’

The following section, ‘Horse and Rider’, focuses on the elemental human–horse connection, with poems by E. E. Cummings, Basil Bunting, and Richard Wilbur, along with perhaps the most famous contemporary poem about a journey on horseback—Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping byWoods on a Snowy Evening—in which a horse, for a change, wonders at human mystery.

‘Horses in Mind’ ventures into abstract and dreamlike manifestations.For Witter Bynner and Sylvia Plath, untamed horses are apt metaphors for the elusiveness of language. Paul Muldoon ponders ‘if I’m a man dreaming I’m a plowhorse / or a great plowhorse dreaming I’m a man.’ And Carl Phillips imagines that a ‘horse is entering / the sea, and the sea / holds it.’

Elsewhere, horses are honored for their pastoral and hunting work by poets such as Gary Snyder, Maxine Kumin, and Seamus Heaney. Poems by Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and others commemorate the horse’s role in battle, and a brief section touches on the colorful tradition of cowboy poetry on the American frontier.

The poems in ‘Equine Encounters’ describe revelatory meetings between our species, and in the final section poets honor the horse in memory and in grief. ‘They have pulled our ploughs and borne our load,’ writes Edwin Muir. ‘But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.’ Thanks to the amazing bond we have known with horses throughout history, ‘Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.’

—Carmela Ciuraru

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS
Foreword

ENTERING THE WORLD

TED HUGHES From What Is the Truth?
SOPHIE CABOT BLACK Pulling into Morning
MICHAEL EARL CRAIG Brute Mystic
FERENC JUHÁSZ Birth of the Foal
JEAN VALENTINE Mare and Newborn Foal

HORSE AND RIDER

E. E. CUMMINGS Buffalo Bill ’s
ROBERT CREELEY The Rescue
ROBERT FROST Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
ANN STANFORD The Four Horsemen
JOHN BUNYAN Upon the Horse and His Rider
ANON. ‘Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross’
LYDIA MARIA CHILD Thanksgiving Day
PHILIP SIDNEY Sonnet XLI: Having This Day My Horse
PHILIP SIDNEY Astrophel and Stella XLIX
LOUISE GLÜCK Horse
RICHARD WILBUR The Ride
JAMES WRIGHT The Horse
VICKI HEARNE Riding a Nervous Horse
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE From Venus and Adonis
BASIL BUNTING ‘That filly couldn’t carry a rider’
TRADITIONAL Yankee Doodle

HORSES IN MIND

WITTER BYNNER Horses
SYLVIA PLATH Words
TED HUGHES A Dream of Horses
MICHAEL LONGLEY Ponies
MARK STRAND Two Horses
KAY RYAN All Shall Be Restored
STANLEY PLUMLY Horse in the Cage
PAUL MULDOON Horses
CHARLIE SMITH Rider
ROGER MCGOUGH A Cat, a Horse and the Sun
SYLVIA PLATH The Death of Myth-Making
PAUL MULDOON Medley for Morin Khur
MATTHEA HARVEY The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away
ALICIA RABINS Ars Poetica
MONICA FAMBROUGH I Love Them as I’m Defying Them
CARL PHILLIPS The Truth
MICHAEL EARL CRAIG Prayer
EZRA D. FELDMAN A Progression of Scents
JASON BREDLE The Horse’s Adventure
ERICA EHRENBERG The Bramble
STEPHANIE GEHRING Selbstgespräch mit Franziskus
CECILY PARKS I Lost My Horse
ROBIN BECKER From The Horse Fair
GABRIELLE CALVOCORESSI A Love Supreme
GARY SNYDER Riprap
LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI ‘Don’t let that horse’

ON THE FARM, OFF TO THE HUNT

JAMES DICKEY The Dusk of Horses
GARY SNYDER Hay for the Horses
JANE KENYON For the Night
MAXINE KUMIN In the Upper Pasture
SEAMUS HEANEY Follower
SEAMUS HEANEY Night-Piece
OGDEN NASH The Solitary Huntsman
TED HUGHES ‘The huntsmen, on top of their swaying horse-towers’
JOHN HAINES Pawnee Dust

WAR HORSES

VIRGIL Æneas Tells of the Trojan Horse
MATTHEA HARVEY Inside the Good Idea
HOMER Achilles Over the Trench
VIRGIL Knowing About Horses
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE From Henry V
PAUL MULDOON Glaucus
ANON. War God’s Horse Song
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON The Charge of the Light Brigade
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW Paul Revere’s Ride
TORQUATO TASSO A Face-Off in the Crusades
THOMAS CAMPBELL Hohenlinden
DONALD HALL O Flodden Field
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE From Richard III
EAVAN BOLAND The War Horse

COWBOYS AND HORSES

JOHN HAINES Ghost Town
ANON. From The Jolly Cowboy
FRANK DESPREZ From Lasca
TOM T. HALL Faster Horses
TRADITIONAL The Old Chisholm Trail
BADGER CLARK Ridin’
THOMAS HORNSBY FERRIL Science Came West
TRADITIONAL Git Along Little Dogies

EQUINE ENCOUNTERS

D. H. LAWRENCE The White Horse
TED HUGHES The Horses
SIMON ARMITAGE Horses, M62
JAMES WRIGHT A Blessing
JANE HIRSHFIELD Heat
SOPHIE CABOT BLACK In High Country
RIHAKU Taking Leave of a Friend
NIKOLAI ALEKSEEVICH ZABOLOTSKY The Face of the Horse
JAMES WRIGHT Two Horses Playing in the Orchard
CARL SANDBURG Bronzes
SARAH ORNE JEWETT A Country Boy in Winter
ROBERT WRIGLEY Kissing a Horse
JENNIFER GROTZ The Ocracoke Ponies
ROBERTA HILL WHITEMAN Horses in Snow
JAMES WRIGHT Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
ROGER MCGOUGH The Horse’s Mouth
CAROL FROST All Summer Long
ROBINSON JEFFERS All the Little Hoof-Prints
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS The Horse
WALTER DE LA MARE The Listeners
THOMAS HARDY No Buyers
JOHN HEWITT The King’s Horses
RICHARD WILBUR ‘When in your neighborhood you hear a neigh

CELEBRATION AND REMEMBRANCE

EDWARD DYSON The Old Whim Horse
ROGER MCGOUGH Poor Old Dead Horses
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY The Hoss
ROBERT W. SERVICE Winnie
ROBERT BURNS The Auld Farmer’s New-Year-Morning Salutation to His Auld Mare, Maggie
KATE BARNES A Mare
PHILIP LEVINE The Horse
SOPHIE CABOT BLACK When It Was Time
JOHN PECK A Twenty-Fourth Poem About Horses
NORMAN DUBIE Danse Macabre
MAXINE KUMIN Seeing the Bones
EDWIN MUIR The Horses

Index of Authors
Acknowledgments

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