The Beginning

It was quite some time ago that we first met; I think it was around mid May.

It was evening, definitely, that I am certain.

 

I first saw him in the centre of the field,

the one bordered with thick leaved trees that cause a dark linear shadow,

framing the beast.

 

I knew at once he was what I wanted,

I knew instantly he’d be perfect.

 

Black and tall,

slender and sheen,

 a medalled animal he glared at me.

 

He made me feel small, inferior,

but that just increased the feeling of desire.

 

Strong and muscular,

all anyone wants,

focused and admirable, a voice with fight.

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Horse

What does the horse give you

that I cannot give you?

 

I watch you when you are alone,

when you ride into the field behind the dairy,

your hands buried in the mare’s

dark mane.

 

Then I know what lies behind your silence:

scorn, hatred of me, of marriage. Still,

you want me to touch you; you cry out

as brides cry, but when I look at you I see

there are no children in your body.

Then what is there?

 

Nothing, I think. Only haste

to die before I die.

 

In a dream, I watched you ride the horse

over the dry fields and then

dismount: you two walked together;

in the dark, you had no shadows.

But I felt them coming toward me

since at night they go anywhere,

they are their own masters.

 

Look at me. You think I don’t understand?

What is the animal

if not passage out of this life?

 

Louise Gluck

The Steeple

Our forbears saw the steeple

Stand bold against the Blue,

A landmark to the people

Who sought for porch and pew;

And while the tall spire bade them

To prayer and praise withdraw,

How it might further aid them

Our sporting fathers saw.

 

So when men matched their horses

To gallop fast and far,

Before the days of courses

Built up with birch and bar,

That needle-cloud embordered                                    

Our fathers chose for guide,

And dropped the flag and ordered:

‘Straight for the Steeple – ride!’

 

Now, oe’er the hamlet houses

We watch the lifted spire,

And in each heart it rouses

Some old and smouldering fire;

And many cheery people,

Though far removed from grace,

Look kindly on the Steeple,

That gave the Steeple-chase.

 

Will Ogilvie