Horse, our poor creature, we treat as if elemental,
Stupidly. This is unfeeling. True, he is fabulous;
Goes, though, not like the wind, whatever his mettle;
Nor, much as he ripples in motion, is he conditioned
By a sky-god’s whims, like a river. Not there did the Norman
Culture, that made him its talisman, ground its attachment.

Rather, he was their technology; unsentimental
Reasons made barons and bishops, bloodthirsty and emulous,
Curry, caparison into the finest fettle
Him their scout-car, halftrack, their efficient
Weapon-carrier. Dearer to them than Woman
The destrier trampling the Legate’s obstructive parchment.

Why then so often, seeking a type for the gentle
And powerful, such as we once were, needing a stimulus
Even to think of that humanness lost, do we settle
On him, on the horse? Why are our horses commissioned
To stand in for what we think best in ourselves, for a yeoman
Sturdiness, or knighthood blurred in a lozengy hatchment?

Is it their having, except for holiday rental
Like jeeps or a sand-yacht, vanished, that now they compel us
Only as fluid, their hoofbeats soft as a petal
Floating to earth on a moonlit hill? A deficient
Sense for the civic has exiled even the Roman
Charger, all laurel and bronze, to eerie detachment.

This has us craning, to trace on a pock-marked lintel
The arms of Sir Hugo, the psychopath. Miscreant, infamous
Cavalier, his horsemanship counts for little
To earn him remission; yet that, no more, was sufficient.
Time, the sad torrent, has washed off his vices, and no man
Builds jetty or pier in that current, or measures its catchment.

There has to be reason why beings not elemental,
Divine, nor supernatural, soothe us as fabulous
Creatures moving among us. A horse of mettle
Or merest Dobbin ought to find us conditioned
To a sorry awe. Call it the flower of Norman
Or Saracen chivalry, this was a noble attachment.


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