Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROAN STALLION, by ROBINSON JEFFERS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ROAN STALLION, by             Poem Explanation     Poet's Biography
First Line: The dog barked; then the woman stood in the doorway, and hearing
Last Line: Who has killed god. The night-wind veering, the smell of the spilt wine drifted down hill from the h
Subject(s): Horses

The dogwood leaves are bronzing,
The hard apples glow in the sunlight,
The year beats slowly to death.
He is twenty-five or thirty.
I admire him, I admire him
In myself, without anthropomorphizing him.
Horses, dogs, have died for us, it is a matter of record.
We know they too are alive.
They too suffer, and squander
Their little lives recklessly,
And for our little pleasure.
Roan stallion,
The eldest and best,
You are always renewing your strength
In your broken mane
And in your eyes that flash
Like an eagle's eyes.
The Roman-nosed one,
The maker of males,
That with the violent
And yet feminine cry
Of a great bird
Falls on the mare
As if he had wings.
To be owned by you,
Or to die.
No wonder the ancient cults
Went in for this.
Of the hundred Greek cities and islands,
Every one
Of them bred a great horse,
Black, white, piebald,
Ashen-grey or tan,
Pallor of mares and stallions,
Dappled and proud,
Or with the spots of the leopard,
Red and dun,
A hundred breeds of horses,
Some of them worth a kingdom,
And each with a different beauty--
They lived like gods,
And every man
Worshipped his own city's horse,
As the incarnation
Of a divine animal.

And the name of the horses
Had the ring of bronze in it,
Or in the deep-meadow's green,
Or it was the sound of the sea
On the cliffs of the solitary coast.
The name of the horses
Had a glory in it,
And the sound of it
Shone like a silver trumpet
Or a savage drum.

Roan stallion,
In heaven you may prance and neigh.
The black, the chestnut, the bay,
The geldings and the mares,
And the colts who are to come
With the sweet mares,
Forth from the womb,
All, all, will be yours,
In heaven.

But here,
Here on earth,
The hoof prints rust into the grass
As you stand, old and powerful,
By the old fence of the sheepfold,
The south wind blows,
The sunlight flies around you
And the hot, honeyed fragrance
Of the autumn flowers.
In your nostrils, O splendid
And strong one, the smell
Of the sea-foam and the sea-blossom.

All the earth is yours,
And all the fullness thereof,
And the vast, brooding sky,
And the sea's far-horizon.
And yet you are but a thought,
A dream, a roan horse,
A shadow, cloud on the distant hills
Of memory.

Forever, here, in this
Island solitude,
In the timeless waves of the sea,
The fading tides, the fading years,
You pace, immortal,
The wild shore of thought,
One step ahead of your shadow,
The roan, the sound of the sea,
The world's beginning, and its end.

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