Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MUSTANG, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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MUSTANG, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Chaparral grew you
Last Line: Fade to the stars! It is time for rest.
Subject(s): Animals; Horses


CHAPARRAL grew you, sagebrush knew you,
Winds and rains of the plains blew through you,
Prick-eared, elk-hoofed, ember-eyeballed,
Mincing mustang, paint-splashed piebald,
Catamount-color or faun or roan
By brawling foam of the Yellowstone
Under earthquake rock grotesque and high
All colors of flame to the turquoise sky. ...

Mouth of iron in rawhide noose,
Feather in forelock, mane blown loose,
A striped-faced redskin gripping astride,
Riding as only the Sioux could ride;
Jackrabbit racer, here and gone,
Trotting the travois up the dawn,
Wrenching the coulee's wretched grass,
Snaking by night through the spectral pass,
Looping the blue-coats' leaguered force
With the whooping braves of Crazy Horse. ...

Death where the Big Horn lodges lie
And troops show black on a brazen sky;
Death at the river, death on the slope;
The dark wave breaks on the last mad hope,
Through the rat-a-tat the hard hoofs drum
Where the fiend-faced yelling warriors come
In a mustang rush; the flecked foam flies,
Wild eyes glare down into glazing eyes. ...

Foal of the wild and the mauvaises terres,
Clamber the lightning's zigzag stair,
On purple thunders that loom with doom
Paw for your pasture and your groom!
Blood dripped brightly, the quirt fell hard,
Withers to rump, you are rawhide scarred.
Wild was the sortie, black the camp
Lit by the moon's carved death's-head lamp.
Fierce were the faces, strong the strain
That ranged and wheeled on the open plain. ...

But thunder-cloud dark is the blood-stained west;
Fade to the stars! It is time for rest.





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