Monday, 20 December 2010

Great Horse Stories - poem by Borealis


BOREALIS
Brown stallion
Rider: Leonnatus

I was named after the North Wind,
but crueller winds blow on me today
bringing ice from the edge of the world
to chill my pale bones

Which haunt the trail
where I lay down to rest
during our march up and over
the highest pass of the Hindu Kush.

My friends trotted down into the mist
leaving me with a mane full of snow.
If I wait here long enough
they will return for me, I know.

Leonnatus will bring me a warm cloth,
honeyed oats and a bridle of gold -
See, here they come now all in a froth
from climbing the trail so steep and cold.

I greet them with a whinny of delight,
and watch my bold friend Bucephalas
rear up high and pick a fight
with King Alexander, no less.

Oh, he is acting wild!
And now the other horses are taking fright.
I can't understand why they won’t pass,
until I get out of their way at last.

Now Alexander jumps off to take the lead
and approaches me, all squinting and slow.
“Borealis?” he whispers, “Are you still here?”
So where else did he expect me to go?

Bucephalas snorts as he passes me.
Obedient, I fall in at the back
and we all trot down into India
where the rains turn everything black.

And if you think ghosts don’t remember
then think again, my friend.
For at Bucephalas’ side I remain
faithful Borealis unto the end.

Muse note: Borealis was one of the many horses who died during Alexander’s forced march over the Hindu Kush in winter. His ghost waited by the path until the army retraced their steps on the way to India, where it could follow Bucephalas again.

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