Thursday, July 26, 2012

Retroblogging: Favorite Childhood Poem about a Horse

After all this "poetry" from my childhood, we need a palate cleanser. I know I've mentioned a few times that I was horse crazy as a kid, but I was so horse crazy that I also collected equine-themed poetry and people created computer graphic equine art. (Look, it was the 1980s ... computer graphics and printers were limited to DOS programs and dot-matrix printers. Cut us a break!)

It was hard to keep dibs on this poem. Long narrative epic poems aren't always in fashion and I couldn't always find it in anthologies. I have a version I transcribed in pencil, the copy seen above typed into an early version of a word-processing document on the computer, and now this one - all saved for posterity.

The Arab to his Favorite Steed
By Caroline Norton

My Beautiful! My beautiful that standest meekly by,
With thy proudly arched and glossy neck, and dar
k and fiery eye,
Fret not to roam the desert, with all thy winged speed;
I may not mount on thee again, - thou’rt sold, my Arab steed,
Fret not with impatient hooves – snuff not the breezy wind
The farther that thy fliest now, so far am I behind;
The stranger hath thy bridle-rein-thy master hath his gold,
Fleet-limbed and beautiful, farewell; thou’rt sold, my steed, thou’rt sold.

Farewell! Those free untried limbs full mile must roam.
To reach the chill and wintry sky which cloud the stranger’s home
Some other hand, less fond, must now thy corn and bed prepare,
The silky mane, I braided once must be another’s care!
The morning’s sun shall down again, but never again with thee,
Shall I gallop through the desert path; where we wont to be;
Evening shall darken on the earth, and o’er the sandy plain,
Some other steed, with slower step, shall bear me home again.

Yes, thou must go! The wild, free breeze, the brilliant sun and sky,
Thy master’s house-from all of these my exiled one must fly,
Thy proud dark eye will grow less proud, thy step become less fleet.
And vainly shall thou arch thy neck, thy master’s hand to meet,
Only in sleep shall I behold that dark eye, glancing bright,
Only in sleep shall I hear thy step so firm and light.
And when I raise my dreaming arm to check or cheer thy speed,
Then must I, starting wake to feel, thou’rt sold my Arab steed,
Ah, rudely, then, unseen by me, some cruel hand may chide.
‘Til form-wreathes lie, like crested waves along thy panting side;
And the rich-blood that's in thee swells in thy indignant pain,
‘Til careless eyes, which rest on thee, may count each starting vein
Will they ill-use thee, If I thought-but no, it can not be.
Thou art so swift, yet easily curbed, so gentle, yet so free.
And yet, if hap’ly, when thou’rt gone, my lonely heart should yearn,
Can the hand which casts thee from it, now command thee to return.

Return! Alas! My Arab steed, what shall thy master do,
When thou, who wast his all of joy, hast vanished from his view?
When the dim distance cheats thy eye, and though the gathering tears,
Thy bright form, for a moment, like eye false mirage appears;
Slow and unmounted shall I roam, with weary step alone,
Where, with fleet step and joyous bound thou oft hast borne me on,
And sitting down by that green well, I’ll pause and sadly think,
It was here he bowed his glossy neck when last I saw him drink,

When last I saw thee drink! – Away!- The fevered dream is o’er –
I could not live a day, and know that we should meet no more!
They tempted thee, my beautiful, for hunger’s powers strong,
Who said I have given thee up? Who said that thou wast sold?
‘Tis false! – ‘Tis false my Arab steed, I fling them back their gold,
Thus, thus, I leap upon thy back, and scout the distant plain,
Away, who over takes us now shall claim thee for his pains!

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