Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RIDE, by HARRY HIBBARD KEMP



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THE RIDE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I struck him down in sudden wrath / over a trivial word
Last Line: Come riding o'er the hill!
Subject(s): Friendship; Ghosts; Horseback Riding; Murder; Supernatural; Violence


I STRUCK him down in sudden wrath
Over a trivial word ...
I shook him twice. ... I shook him thrice ...
He neither spake nor stirred ...

Then forth into the night I fled
And spurred my flying steed;
In faith a lucky man was I,
For none had seen the deed.

All night I rode among the hills.
The sky arched deep and wide. ...
Ah! like the presence of the wind
I felt him at my side.

At dawn I passed men on the road:
They spake with friendly tone;
One proffered me companionship—
He thought I rode alone.

"Right gladly will I ride with you,"
I answered; but, unseen,
The man that I had done to death
Slipped fearfully between.

"I swear you are a gloomy man,"
My fleshly fellow said—
He knew not my companionship
Was wholly with the dead. ...

I stayed for neither food nor rest;
My horse with staggering pace
Strove time on time to pause our flight
At brook or grassy place,—

And still, when fell the second night,
That thing of shadowy fear
Kept riding near me like the wind
And whispered in my ear ...

Aha! I saw him ... now! ... at last! ...
With murder still engrossed
I struck ... He parted like a mist. ...
I could not slay his ghost.

I mantled up my face in dread
And let my horse run on;
HE too had seen, nor needed now
The whip to urge him on ...

Ere day we fell, my horse and I,
Where cactus sprawled in sand—
"Let's play at cards," the shadow said;
I rose at his command;

I dealt the cards at his command,
(My steed lay dead thereby),
"And if YOU win, you live!" he said,
"And if I win you die!"

We played: "I win! I win!" he cried ...
The dawn rose, vast and still ...
Behold, the sheriff and his men
Come riding o'er the hill!





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