Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Charlotte Elizabeth's Horse Ride

Before  Charlotte Elizabeth became a prolific Christian writer and the author of many anonymous tracts, she spent some time in Nova Scotia where her best friends were her horse and her dog. Though not a horsey person myself, the following poem made a deep impression on me when I read her autobiography many years ago. Not able to find it online, I decided to post it myself for my friends who love horses and for those who, like me, are inexplicably captivated by the abandon and comradery so beautifully expressed in this poem. She composed the following lines in the early part of the 19th century while riding a dappled gray Arabian named Fairy.  Marco was her dog.

I know by the ardour thou canst not restrain,
By the curve of thy neck and the toss of thy mane,
By the foam of thy snorting which spangles my brow,
The fire of the Arab is hot in thee now.
'Twere harsh to control thee, my frolicksome steed,
I give thee the rein -- so away at thy speed;
Thy rider will dare to be wilful as thee,
Laugh the future to scorn, and partake in thy glee.
Away to the mountain -- what need we to fear?
Pursuit cannot press on my Fairy's career,
Full light were the heel and well balanced the head
That ventured to follow the track of thy tread;
Where roars the loud torrent and starts the rude plank,
And thunders the rock-severed mass down the bank,
While mirror'd in crystal the far-shooting glow,
With dazzling effulgence is sparkling below.
One start, and I die; yet in peace I recline,
My bosom can rest on the fealty of thine;
Thou lov'st me, my sweet one, and would'st not be free
From a yoke that has never borne rudely on thee.
Ah, pleasant the empire of those to confess,
Whose wrath is a whisper, their rule a caress.

Behold how thy playmate is stretching beside,
As loath to be vanquish'd in love or in pride,
While upward he glances his eye-ball of jet,
Half dreading thy fleetness may distance him yet.
Ah Marco, poor Marco -- our pastime to-day
Were reft of one pleasure if he were away.

How precious these moments! fair Freedom expands
Her pinions of light o'er the desolate lands:
The waters are flashing as bright as thine eye,
Unchain'd as thy motion the breezes sweep by;
Delicious they come, o'er the flower-scented earth,
Like whispers of love from the isle of my birth;
While the white-bosom'd Cistus her perfume exhales,
And sighs out a spicy farewell to the gales.
Unfeared and unfearing we'll traverse the wood,
Where pours the rude torrent its turbulent flood:
The forest's red children will smile as we scour
By the log-fashioned hut and the pine-woven bower;
Thy feathery footsteps scarce bending the grass,
Or denting the dew-spangled moss where we pass.

What startles thee? 'Twas but the sentinel gun
Flashed a vesper salute to thy rival, the sun;
He has closed his swift progress before thee, and sweeps
With fetlock of gold, the last verge of the steeps.
The fire-fly anon from his covet shall glide,
And dark fall the shadows of eve on the tide.
Tread softly -- my spirit is joyous no more,
A northern aurora, it shone and is o'er;
The tears will fall fast as I gather the rein,
And a long look reverts to yon shadowy plain.

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