I was really into poetry when I was younger. All the way from the Shel Silverstein days (still think those books are absolutely brilliant) on through high school when I remember checking out big volumes of all kinds of poetry from the school library. I’ve always clung to it a bit in everyday life, too, from my very first apartment where I had a framed poster of a Robert Frost poem (“The Road Not Taken”, of course), right up to current day, where I have the last two lines of my favorite poem tattooed on my arm.
So when Bel Joeor posted a Poetry Month blog hop for April, I knew I wanted in. She wrote:
April is National Poetry Month. Post a poem about a horse (or a barn, or a dog, or just one that brings you joy).
I figured I would post my favorite horse-related poem, and then my favorite non-horse one. Why not make it a twofer?
First: the horse-related one. I have always loved books, and when I was a kid I would beg for literally any horse book I came across, no matter where we were. My parents were always pretty supportive of the habit, so getting them to buy me a book was generally never that difficult. And I didn’t really care what the subject matter was – if it had horses in it, I wanted it. That went for regular novels, like the Thoroughbred series, as well as non-fiction instructional type books. I had everything from horse breed and color books, to jump building books, to grooming books, to equitation books, to horse care books. You name it, I probably got my grubby little hands on it at some point.
There was one book in particular about horse photography… I remember all the talk of aperture and exposure and blah blah blah. All of it went right over my head of course, I was maybe 10 or 11 and certainly did not own a camera or have any idea what the heck they were even talking about. That was the early 90’s, kids with cameras wasn’t a thing then. I really just wanted the book because it was chock full of gorgeous, glossy horse pictures, from cover to cover. I pored over that thing constantly, looking at all the different horses, to the point where I still remember some of the photo captions. But one thing that stood out to me in particular was a poem that was included with one particular black and white photo – the poem was called “The Ode to The Horse”, by Ronald Duncan.
For a kid who just purely loved horses, the poem struck a chord with me. It gave me the words to understand just why I did feel so drawn to horses. It summed up everything I loved and admired about them. I STILL to this day think back to certain lines of that poem all the time, and it always takes me right back to why I fell in love with horses in the first place. They’re such incredible animals, and our history as humankind really was written upon the back of a horse. It wows me every time.
As for my favorite non-horse poem, the tattoo spoiler probably gave it away:
Courage, perseverance, strength, free will. What’s not to like about Invictus? It’s said that Henley wrote the poem while in the hospital recovering from a leg amputation due to complications of tuberculosis. It’s a good reminder that no matter what happens to us, and no matter the circumstances, we still have control over our own thoughts and actions, and we can steer our ship however we choose. I actually have a copy of this poem in my tack trunk, and look at it sometimes at shows if I’m feeling nervous or worried or intimidated. After all, we’re the ones that get to decide whether or not we’re truly beaten.
What are your favorite poems – horse or non-horse related?