Ishmael [poem by Marie E. J. Pitt]

[Editor: This poem by Marie E. J. Pitt was published in The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses (1911).]

Ishmael.

Six off, and still unbroken —
No fretting bridle bar,
No spur has left its token,
No girth has left its scar.

Free as the wind that follows
Its own unfettered will;
Free as the wheeling swallows,
He rests or revels still.

The Bush is stall and manger,
His grooms are wind and sun;
Dusk chieftain, pallid stranger,
He payeth toll to none.

The Bush is stall and manger,
He snorts and stands aloof,
And flouts the face of danger
With rout of ringing hoof.

Heads low his comrades waddle
In weary bonds of draught,
Galled withers ’neath the saddle,
Galled ribs against the shaft.

Where jocund kookaburras
Make merry on the bough,
Above the long brown furrows
His playmates pull the plough.

On dusty road and dreary,
On broken bridle track,
They wander far and weary,
And weary wander back.

Nor one demands his leisure
From burden or from chain,
But waits his master’s pleasure
To take the track again.

And only he runs idle
In pasture lands of Fate,
Unvexed of bit or bridle
Or reckless rider’s weight.

Runs idle — who shall blame him? —
He flings the gauntlet down,
The man that dares to tame him
Shall take him back to town.

Meet trophy he for vaunting
As prize of errant knight,
Where Fashion’s flowers are flaunting
And Beauty’s eyes are bright.

What lord of lines shall quarrel
With symmetry superb,
Strong quarter, mighty barrel,
Proud crest that shames the curb:

Clean pastern, sinewy shoulder,
Broad chest where boundeth hard
A fiercer heart and bolder
Than fear of men shall yard!

Vaunt not your pampered stallions,
The slaves of man’s decree,
Base helots they, and hallions,
Nor peer for such as he.

The sprites of earth and ocean,
The war of wind and flood,
Old Freedom’s rebel potion,
Run riot in his blood;

Bold outlaw, reckless liver,
But by that dainty tread
And that red nostril’s quiver
Ye know him thoroughbred.

Six off, and still unbroken,
No saddle mark shall stain
That satin coat for token
Of masterdom’s domain.

Dream not, your bondage leaden
That flashing eye shall blur,
Nor dream those flanks shall redden
And reek beneath the spur.

A monarch of the ranges,
A sultan of the plains,
A spirit that estranges
Fell Fear from his domains.

Free as the wind that follows
Its own unfettered will,
Free as the wheeling swallows,
He rests or revels still.



Source:
Marie E. J. Pitt, The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses, Melbourne: Specialty Press, 1911, pages 33-36

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