Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE HOSS, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: The hoss he is a splendud beast
Last Line: Down on my knees and love the hoss.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Animals; Horses; Love
THE hoss he is a splendud beast;
He is man's friend, as heaven desined,
And, search the world from west to east,
No honester you'll ever find!
Some calls the hoss "a pore dumb brute,"
And yit, like Him who died fer you,
I say, as I theyr charge refute,
"'Fergive; they know not what they do!'"
No wiser animal makes tracks
Upon these earthly shores, and hence
Arose the axium, true as facts,
Extoled by all, as "Good hoss-sense!"
The hoss is strong, and knows his stren'th, --
You hitch him up a time er two
And lash him, and he'll go his len'th
And kick the dashboard out fer you!
But, treat him allus good and kind,
And never strike him with a stick,
Ner aggervate him, and you'll find
He'll never do a hostile trick.
A hoss whose master tends him right
And worters him with daily care,
Will do your biddin' with delight,
And act as docile as you air.
He'll paw and prance to hear your praise,
Because he's learnt to love you well;
And, though you can't tell what he says,
He'll nicker all he wants to tell.
He knows you when you slam the gate
At early dawn, upon your way
Unto the barn, and snorts elate,
To git his corn, er oats, er hay.
He knows you, as the orphant knows
The folks that loves her like theyr own,
And raises her and "finds" her clothes,
And "schools" her tel a womern-grown!
I claim no hoss will harm a man,
Ner kick, ner run away, cavort,
Stump-suck, er balk, er "catamaran,"
Ef you'll jes' treat him as you ort.
But when I see the beast abused,
And clubbed around as I've saw some,
I want to see his owner noosed,
And jes' yanked up like Absolum!
Of course they's differunce in stock, --
A hoss that has a little yeer,
And slender build, and shaller hock,
Can beat his shadder, mighty near!
Whilse one that's thick in neck and chist
And big in leg and full in flank,
That tries to race, I still insist
He'll have to take the second rank.
And I have jes' laid back and laughed,
And rolled and wallered in the grass
At fairs, to see some heavy-draft
Lead out at first, yit come in last!
Each hoss has his appinted place, --
The heavy hoss should plow the soil; --
The blooded racer, he must race,
And win big wages fer his toil.
I never bet -- ner never wrought
Upon my feller man to bet --
And yit, at times, I've often thought
Of my convictions with regret.
I bless the hoss from hoof to head --
From head to hoof, and tale to mane! --
I bless the hoss, as I have said,
From head to hoof, and back again!
I love my God the first of all,
Then Him that perished on the cross,
And next, my wife, -- and then I fall
Down on my knees and love the hoss.
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