This poem is taken from my recent collection, Paper Patterns (Lapwing 2012). I wrote it as a response to seeing the Bayeux Tapestrey, when I was on Penelope Shuttle’s course in Normandy in 2011. The falling horses in the battle, ambushed and falling into a pit, in contorted shapes, reminded me of The Grand National and the horses who are killed in that race every year.
Each steed is different, needle-drawn,
couched in muted shades, their noble heads
shackled with bridles, chain-stitched threads.
On cotton track, they canter like horses at races
until they come to Saxon ‘Beecher’s Brook’,
when, pulled up short, they tumble to the ground,
heads down, rears up: colliding, knotting, twisting,
while needlewomen sew each snort and whinny,
catching the details of their falling in unlikely
curves. The dying horses claim their place
in history, through this tapestry, as though
their hoof beats rang through yards of cloth.
7 responses to “Horses, Falling”
I like the way you weave the history of the thing with your experience.
sorry – too many ‘i’s’ in that spelling. Must put specs on.
or not. Must put specs on.
Superb. Thanks for that.
I like the way you comine the form and motion of the horses with the movement of the stitching. Even without the picture I could see the shapes and hear the hooves.
Exactly captures the mood and image of those contorted felty shapes.
Your poem ‘Horses, Falling’, like the Bayeux Tapestry itself, brings The Battle of Hastings so vividly to life we can almost see it, hear it, and smell the blood.
I like the way you start with a narrow focus, then draw back in long lines of quickening pace, like a commentator on the spot as the battle unfolds, present day racecourse scenes spookily foreshadowed, before the wide-angle conclusion.
Thank goodness no horses died at this year’s Grand National last Saturday.