HORSE POEMS

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  • 13.
    How The Old Horse Won The Bet

    DEDICATED BY A CONTRIBUTOR TO THE COLLEGIAN,
    1830, TO THE EDITORS OF THE HARVARD ADVOCATE, 1876.

    'T WAS on the famous trotting-ground,
    The betting men were gathered round
    From far and near; the 'cracks' were there
    Whose deeds the sporting prints declare
    The swift g. m., Old Hiram's nag,
    The fleet s. h., Dan Pfeiffer's brag,
    With these a third--and who is he
    That stands beside his fast b. g.?
    Budd Doble, whose catarrhal name
    So fills the nasal trump of fame.
    There too stood many a noted steed
    Of Messenger and Morgan breed;
    Green horses also, not a few;
    Unknown as yet what they could do;
    And all the hacks that know so well
    The scourgings of the Sunday swell.

    Blue are the skies of opening day;
    The bordering turf is green with May;
    The sunshine's golden gleam is thrown
    On sorrel, chestnut, bay, and roan;
    The horses paw and prance and neigh,
    Fillies and colts like kittens play,
    And dance and toss their rippled manes
    Shining and soft as silken skeins;
    Wagons and gigs are ranged about,
    And fashion flaunts her gay turn-out;
    Here stands--each youthful Jehu's dream
    The jointed tandem, ticklish team!
    And there in ampler breadth expand
    The splendors of the four-in-hand;
    On faultless ties and glossy tiles
    The lovely bonnets beam their smiles;
    (The style's the man, so books avow;
    The style's the woman, anyhow);
    From flounces frothed with creamy lace
    Peeps out the pug-dog's smutty face,
    Or spaniel rolls his liquid eye,
    Or stares the wiry pet of Skye,--
    O woman, in your hours of ease
    So shy with us, so free with these!

    'Come on! I 'll bet you two to one
    I 'll make him do it!' 'Will you? Done!'

    What was it who was bound to do?
    I did not hear and can't tell you,--
    Pray listen till my story's through.

    Scarce noticed, back behind the rest,
    By cart and wagon rudely prest,
    The parson's lean and bony bay
    Stood harnessed in his one-horse shay--
    Lent to his sexton for the day;
    (A funeral--so the sexton said;
    His mother's uncle's wife was dead.)

    Like Lazarus bid to Dives' feast,
    So looked the poor forlorn old beast;
    His coat was rough, his tail was bare,
    The gray was sprinkled in his hair;
    Sportsmen and jockeys knew him not,
    And yet they say he once could trot
    Among the fleetest of the town,
    Till something cracked and broke him down,--
    The steed's, the statesman's, common lot!
    'And are we then so soon forgot?'
    Ah me! I doubt if one of you
    Has ever heard the name 'Old Blue,'
    Whose fame through all this region rung
    In those old days when I was young!

    'Bring forth the horse!' Alas! he showed
    Not like the one Mazeppa rode;
    Scant-maned, sharp-backed, and shaky-kneed,
    The wreck of what was once a steed,
    Lips thin, eyes hollow, stiff in joints;
    Yet not without his knowing points.
    The sexton laughing in his sleeve,
    As if 't were all a make-believe,
    Led forth the horse, and as he laughed
    Unhitched the breeching from a shaft,
    Unclasped the rusty belt beneath,
    Drew forth the snaffle from his teeth,
    Slipped off his head-stall, set him free
    From strap and rein,--a sight to see!

    So worn, so lean in every limb,
    It can't be they are saddling him!
    It is! his back the pig-skin strides
    And flaps his lank, rheumatic sides;
    With look of mingled scorn and mirth
    They buckle round the saddle-girth;
    With horsey wink and saucy toss
    A youngster throws his leg across,
    And so, his rider on his back,
    They lead him, limping, to the track,
    Far up behind the starting-point,
    To limber out each stiffened joint.

    As through the jeering crowd he past,
    One pitying look Old Hiram cast;
    'Go it, ye cripple, while ye can!'
    Cried out unsentimental Dan;
    'A Fast-Day dinner for the crows!'
    Budd Doble's scoffing shout arose.

    Slowly, as when the walking-beam
    First feels the gathering head of steam,
    With warning cough and threatening wheeze
    The stiff old charger crooks his knees;
    At first with cautious step sedate,
    As if he dragged a coach of state
    He's not a colt; he knows full well
    That time is weight and sure to tell;
    No horse so sturdy but he fears
    The handicap of twenty years.

    As through the throng on either hand
    The old horse nears the judges' stand,
    Beneath his jockey's feather-weight
    He warms a little to his gait,
    And now and then a step is tried
    That hints of something like a stride.

    'Go!'--Through his ear the summons stung
    As if a battle-trump had rung;
    The slumbering instincts long unstirred
    Start at the old familiar word;
    It thrills like flame through every limb,--
    What mean his twenty years to him?
    The savage blow his rider dealt
    Fell on his hollow flanks unfelt;
    The spur that pricked his staring hide
    Unheeded tore his bleeding side;
    Alike to him are spur and rein,--
    He steps a five-year-old again!

    Before the quarter pole was past,
    Old Hiram said, 'He's going fast.'
    Long ere the quarter was a half,
    The chuckling crowd had ceased to laugh;
    Tighter his frightened jockey clung
    As in a mighty stride he swung,
    The gravel flying in his track,
    His neck stretched out, his ears laid back,
    His tail extended all the while
    Behind him like a rat-tail file!
    Off went a shoe,--away it spun,
    Shot like a bullet from a gun;

    The quaking jockey shapes a prayer
    From scraps of oaths he used to swear;
    He drops his whip, he drops his rein,
    He clutches fiercely for a mane;
    He'll lose his hold--he sways and reels--
    He'll slide beneath those trampling heels!
    The knees of many a horseman quake,
    The flowers on many a bonnet shake,
    And shouts arise from left and right,
    'Stick on! Stick on!' 'Hould tight! Hould tight!'
    'Cling round his neck and don't let go--'
    'That pace can't hold--there! steady! whoa!'
    But like the sable steed that bore
    The spectral lover of Lenore,
    His nostrils snorting foam and fire,
    No stretch his bony limbs can tire;
    And now the stand he rushes by,
    And 'Stop him!--stop him!' is the cry.
    Stand back! he 's only just begun--
    He's having out three heats in one!

    'Don't rush in front! he'll smash your brains;
    But follow up and grab the reins!'
    Old Hiram spoke. Dan Pfeiffer heard,
    And sprang impatient at the word;
    Budd Doble started on his bay,
    Old Hiram followed on his gray,
    And off they spring, and round they go,
    The fast ones doing 'all they know.'
    Look! twice they follow at his heels,
    As round the circling course he wheels,
    And whirls with him that clinging boy
    Like Hector round the walls of Troy;
    Still on, and on, the third time round
    They're tailing off! they're losing ground!
    Budd Doble's nag begins to fail!
    Dan Pfeiffer's sorrel whisks his tail!
    And see! in spite of whip and shout,
    Old Hiram's mare is giving out!
    Now for the finish! at the turn,
    The old horse--all the rest astern--
    Comes swinging in, with easy trot;
    By Jove! he's distanced all the lot!

    That trot no mortal could explain;
    Some said, 'Old Dutchman come again!'
    Some took his time,--at least they tried,
    But what it was could none decide;
    One said he couldn't understand
    What happened to his second hand;
    One said 2.10; that could n't be--
    More like two twenty-two or three;
    Old Hiram settled it at last;
    'The time was two--too dee-vel-ish fast!'

    The parson's horse had won the bet;
    It cost him something of a sweat;
    Back in the one-horse shay he went;
    The parson wondered what it meant,
    And murmured, with a mild surprise
    And pleasant twinkle of the eyes,
    That funeral must have been a trick,
    Or corpses drive at double-quick;
    I should n't wonder, I declare,
    If brother--Jehu--made the prayer!

    And this is all I have to say
    About that tough old trotting bay,
    Huddup! Huddup! G'lang! Good day!
    Moral for which this tale is told
    A horse can trot, for all he 's old. read more »

  • 14.
    The Phantom Horsewoman.

    Queer are the ways of a man I know:
    He comes and stands
    In a careworn craze,
    And looks at the sands read more »

  • 15.
    Sonnet XLI: Having This Day My Horse

    Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance
    Guided so well that I obtain'd the prize,
    Both by the judgment of the English eyes
    And of some sent from that sweet enemy France; read more »

  • 16.
    There's Another Blessed Horse Fell Down

    When you're lying in your hammock, sleeping soft and sleeping sound,
    Without a care or trouble on your mind,
    And there's nothing to disturb you but the engines going round,
    And you're dreaming of the girl you left behind; read more »

  • 17.
    Sam's Racehorse

    When Sam Small retired from the Army
    He'd a pension of ninepence a day,
    And seven pounds fourteen and twopence
    He'd saved from his rations and pay. read more »

  • 18.
    The Legend Of The Horseshoe

    WHAT time our Lord still walk'd the earth,
    Unknown, despised, of humble birth,
    And on Him many a youth attended
    (His words they seldom comprehended), read more »

  • 19.
    The Old Whim Horse

    He's an old grey horse, with his head bowed sadly,
       And with dim old eyes and a queer roll aft,
    With the off-fore sprung and the hind screwed badly,
       And he bears all over the brands of graft; read more »

  • 20.
    Horse Fiddle

    FIRST I would like to write for you a poem to be shouted in the teeth of a strong wind.
    Next I would like to write one for you to sit on a hill and read down the river valley on a late summer afternoon, reading it in less than a whisper to Jack on his soft wire legs learning to stand up and preach, Jack-in-the-pulpit. read more »

  • 21.
    The Horse of your Heart

    When you've ridden a four-year-old half of the day
    And, foam to the fetlock, they lead him away, read more »

  • 22.
    When Horses Die

    When horses die, they breathe
    When grasses die, they wither,
    When suns die, they go out, read more »

  • 23.
    Don't let that horse

    Don't let that horse
             eat that violin
    cried Chagall's mother read more »

  • 24.
    Horses at Midnight without a Moon

    Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods.
    Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt.
    But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down
    but the angel flies up again taking us with her. read more »

New Horse Poems

  1. She Had Some Horses, Joy Harjo
  2. Girl (Three) And The Black Horse, Rg Gregory
  3. Golden Horse, Golden Horse, Imogen Owens
  4. Horse Love, Abdullah alHemaidy
  5. Horse, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
  6. THE POOR HORSE, Bireswar Halder
  7. Horses, Rhea Badhwar
  8. White Horses, Eleanor Farjeon
  9. Guardian Angel Horse, Diana van den Berg
  10. Year Of The Horse, Ima Ryma
  11. Horse And I, Ajmer Rode
  12. The Life of a War Horse, oskar hansen
  13. Running Horse, gajanan mishra
  14. The Horse and The Storm Cloud..., MoonBee Canady
  15. The Horse and The Lion..., MoonBee Canady
  16. AAAAA Horses are Heroes, S.zaynub Kamoonpuri
  17. Zany - A Pony Tale!, Manjeshwari P MYSORE
  18. One-Horse Town, Kelly Zion
  19. Deceitful Nag Profits, Terence George Craddock (Spe ..
  20. Advancing In Ranks Of Devon Horses, Terence George Craddock (Spe ..
  21. Jessica Rekos, Christina J. Williams
  22. The horse, Asif Andalib
  23. The Hatred In You, Edward Kofi Louis
  24. I Love Horses, Gary Moulton
  25. If Only Wishes Were Horses, Part 2, Comfort Ndlovu
  26. Horses!, Holly Orr
  27. The confusing of horse and donkey, Shahzeb Azhar
  28. telling the truth, oskar hansen
  29. May Poppins haiku, john tiong chunghoo
  30. Picasso's Skull Caps Occupied Horses Fal.., Terence George Craddock (Spe ..
  31. Just a Horse, Ron Secoy
  32. Lovely To His Eyes (Hybridanelle), Gert Strydom
  33. The White Horse..., RIC S. BASTASA
  34. A Horse Life, Kim Robin Edwards
  35. Horses, Lucky You
  36. White Clydesdale horse, Jim O'Donnell
  37. Wind Horse, Tolly Rebeka Christian Black ..
  38. the horses, oskar hansen
  39. Yay or Nay- Neigh, Candace Johnson
  40. A Two Horses Travel!, Ramesh T A
  41. UNASSAILABLE FIDELITY!, Vadakkumpurath Ramesan
  42. the horse that i am riding, RIC S. BASTASA
  43. The Horses Of The Sea, Christina Georgina Rossetti
  44. 190. A STORY, Praveen Kumar In Shobha Priya
  45. A Horse is an Honest Species, sheena blackhall
  46. Mustangs Are Born Free (Monchielle), Dorian Petersen Potter
  47. A Horse Is A Horse, Tomás Ó Cárthaigh
  48. ...., RIC S. BASTASA
  49. how a naked mole, rwetewrt erwtwer
  50. haiku - 217, Dagmara Anna AuraDagimar
  51. Horses, Anita Wisniewska
  52. Red Horse, Spike Monni
  53. Equine Haiku, Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel ..
  54. horses, brooke Dunne
  55. Our horses no longer fly, Jagannath rao Adukuri
  56. Horse is All, Brooke Kaz
  57. Do Cows Not Count?, O Anna Niemus
  58. Fed 3 Horses, O Anna Niemus
  59. He Is A Trier, Francis Duggan
  60. tale of violins, gershon hepner
  61. Race, Holly Rucker
  62. Mary's Gators, Herbert Nehrlich
  63. Papa on the horse As I remember, RIC S. BASTASA
  64. Me & My Horse, Horse Lover
  65. ***Horse Draws Man a Cow, Sylvi Sylva
  66. A Horse For Dinner, John McAdam
  67. Plug Horse?, Bill Grace
  68. Him My Wild Horse...I, the Chosen to Fly.., Florida Angel
  69. Of Horses And Flies, Herbert Nehrlich
  70. Equine Laureate, John McCornack
  71. Cloud Chief Horses, John McCornack
  72. Stallions Hope, Sandra Osborne
  73. I Ride My Horse II, Horse Poet
  74. As I Sit Upon My Horse, Horse Poet
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