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The Horses

Rating: 3.9
Barely a twelvemonth after
The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
Late in the evening the strange horses came.
By then we had made our covenant with silence,
But in the first few days it was so still
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
Nothing. The radios dumb;
And still they stand in corners of our kitchens,
And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms
All over the world. But now if they should speak,
If on a sudden they should speak again,
If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak,
We would not listen, we would not let it bring
That old bad world that swallowed its children quick
At one great gulp. We would not have it again.
Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep,
Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow,
And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness.
The tractors lie about our fields; at evening
They look like dank sea-monsters couched and waiting.
We leave them where they are and let them rust:
'They'll molder away and be like other loam.'
We make our oxen drag our rusty plows,
Long laid aside. We have gone back
Far past our fathers' land.
And then, that evening
Late in the summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.
We saw the heads
Like a wild wave charging and were afraid.
We had sold our horses in our fathers' time
To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us
As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield.
Or illustrations in a book of knights.
We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited,
Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent
By an old command to find our whereabouts
And that long-lost archaic companionship.
In the first moment we had never a thought
That they were creatures to be owned and used.
Among them were some half a dozen colts
Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world,
Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden.
Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads
But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts.
Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.
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COMMENTS
Ralph Hentall 19 January 2021
This is what a nuclear war can achieve. So can Covid 19. Digest this poem well.
0 0 Reply
marlen 26 March 2020
studied this poem when in school 60years ago seems relevant to the awful happenings of today
3 0 Reply
Christian 02 May 2020
I came back to this poem today to find again just how it said " Thereafter nothing" , but all of the words are right. Within the wider Corona destruction, my family has failed and I have lost my two boys of 7 and 2, and finally last Sunday all the talking with their mother was at an end.
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Annette 24 October 2019
It's almost like a film. So atmospheric and makes you feel humble when you realise how ineffective we are without our radios and tractors and " stuff" yet the horses still come to our aid.
1 0 Reply
Keren Carter 05 October 2019
A brilliant atmospheric piece on regeneration and ultimately hope. 'Free servitude' an affecting idea. Like my dog.
0 0 Reply
alexis 19 May 2019
what is the connection of this poem to the world?
0 0 Reply
Vince Handley 18 December 2019
A war which lasted seven days has wiped out civilisation. A year on, a small community survives. They are not in contact with any other community. Nor are they sure if other communities have survived. The survivors must carry on living. A herd of horses arrive, also survivors, also isolated. Slowly, the humans and the horses renew their ancient bond. Their mutual survival becomes more certain.
0 0 Reply
Scarlette 21 March 2019
I don’t get the poem It’s confusing me What is he talking about?
1 0 Reply
Your mum 27 November 2018
Bored of higher english amiritttt
5 1 Reply
Amen! ! ! !
0 0 Reply
Shaun 14 August 2018
I need 20 lines poem on animals but i am not getting one so u its bad and the person who is singing the poem that person is annoying so do something
2 7 Reply
Maureen Fox 21 June 2018
This is a truly memorable poem that encapsulates my personal feelings of connection with horses despite my inability to ride. Romantic? Perhaps. But deep feelings and connections sometimes do wear romantic garments and are not of less importance by doing so.
6 3 Reply
Phil Ball 04 April 2020
It's nothing to do with horses. The horses are a metaphor for our general neglect of nature.
0 1 Reply
Lalit 17 June 2018
Please add poetic devices also
2 0 Reply

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