Poetry Month Blog Hop

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.

invictustat

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.

The Horse Card » The British Horse Society

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:

Amazon.com: Invictus Inspiring Poem Print or Poster: Handmade

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?

9 thoughts on “Poetry Month Blog Hop

  1. The Tyger
    By William Blake
    Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
    In the forests of the night;
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    In what distant deeps or skies.
    Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
    On what wings dare he aspire?
    What the hand, dare seize the fire?

    And what shoulder, & what art,
    Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
    And when thy heart began to beat,
    What dread hand? & what dread feet?

    What the hammer? what the chain,
    In what furnace was thy brain?
    What the anvil? what dread grasp,
    Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

    When the stars threw down their spears
    And water’d heaven with their tears:
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

    Tyger Tyger burning bright,
    In the forests of the night:
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Invictus is so moving… I’ve never really sought out poetry, but I discovered the classics in school – Shel Silverstein and then on to the English classics like Browning, Yeats, Milton, etc in high school . Poe is a favourite too – does narrative poetry count? I love the Raven and the Tell-tale heart (and bonus: the Simpson’s Hallowe’en episode versions of these!)

    Like

  3. The Horse
    William Shakespeare
    I will not change my horse with any that treads…
    When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk,
    He trots the air; the earth sings when he touches
    it.
    “The barest horn of his hoof is more musical than
    the pipe of Hermes…
    He’s of the color of the nutmeg and of the heat of
    the ginger…
    He is pure air and fire, and the dull elements
    Of earth and water never appear in him,
    But only in patient stillness his rider mounts him…
    It is the prince of palfreys. His neigh is like
    The bidding of a monarch, and his countenance
    Enforces homage.

    Like

    1. Too many… I love poems. Sometimes it’s just certain lines that hit me, sometimes it’s the whole poem..
      The last two lines of Sarah Williams’ “The old astronomer to his pupil” make me goosebumpy everytime, I can’t even tell you why:
      “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
      I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
      My all-time favourite is probably “Der Panther”/ “The Panther” by Rainer Maria Rilke.
      Translating poems is tricky, to me, the english version just isn’t as good as the german version.

      “Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe
      so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
      Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
      und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

      Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
      der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
      ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
      in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

      Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
      sich lautlos auf –. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
      geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille –
      und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.”

      English

      “His gaze against the sweeping of the bars
      has grown so weary, it can hold no more.
      To him, there seem to be a thousand bars
      and back behind those thousand bars no world.

      The soft the supple step and sturdy pace,
      that in the smallest of all circles turns,
      moves like a dance of strength around a core
      in which a mighty will is standing stunned.

      Only at times the pupil’s curtain slides
      up soundlessly — . An image enters then,
      goes through the tensioned stillness of the limbs —
      and in the heart ceases to be.”

      It is so melancholic, so sad but I love it. Can’t tell you way, it just hits me like a ton of bricks every time..

      Like

  4. This has been a long time favorite and is especially helpful during these trying times with Covid-19.

    Desiderata
    by Max Ehrmann

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    (ok my allergies always seem to flare up when I read this one)

    The Grandest Foal
    Author Unknown

    I’ll lend you for a little while,
    my grandest foal, God said.
    For you to love while he’s alive,
    and mourn for when he’s dead.

    It may be one or twenty years,
    or days or months, you see.
    But will you, til I take him back,
    Take care of him for me?

    He’ll bring his charms to gladden you
    and should his stay be brief,
    you’ll have those treasured memories,
    as solace for your grief.

    I cannot promise he will stay,
    since all from earth return.
    But there are lessons taught on earth
    I want this foal to learn.

    I’ve looked the wide world over
    in my search for teachers true.
    And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,
    with trust, I have selected you.

    Now will you give him all your love?
    Nor think the labor vain.
    Nor hate me when I come
    to take him back again?

    I know you’ll give him tenderness
    and love will bloom each day.
    And for the happiness you’ve known,
    you will forever-grateful stay.

    But should I come and call for him
    much sooner than you’d planned,
    you’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
    and maybe understand.

    Like

  5. I’ve always loved Invictus! I had to memorize it in middle school, and it just stuck with me. I can still recite it verbatim. One of my absolute favorites has to be “There Will Come Soft Rains” By Sara Teasdale

    (War Time)

    There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
    And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

    And frogs in the pools singing at night,
    And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

    Robins will wear their feathery fire
    Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

    And not one will know of the war, not one
    Will care at last when it is done.

    Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
    If mankind perished utterly;

    And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
    Would scarcely know that we were gone.

    Like

  6. One of my all-time favorites is [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by ee cummings.

    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

    Like

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