Horse Whisperer
Read the poem
Once upon a time, before you and I were born or even
thought of, people didn’t have cars. Instead they used
horses. Horses could be hard to tame, and so people
employed horse whisperers to tame them. Horse
Whisperers could charge a lot of money for their
services because they wouldn’t tell anyone their
secrets of how to tame horses. They whispered to
horses so nobody could hear them and steal their trade
from them…
Stanza One
Past tense
They = the
farmers
They shouted for me
when their horses snorted, when restless
hooves traced circles in the earth
and shimmering muscles refused the plough.
My secret was a spongy tissue, pulled bloody
from the mouth of a just-born foal,
scented with rosemary, cinnamon,
a charm to draw the tender giants
to my hands.
Stanza Two
Gives the sense of panicking
horses and some detail
about the art of horse
whispering
Repeats the opening line
from the first stanza –
similar stanzas
They shouted for me
when their horses reared at the burning straw
and eyes revolved in stately heads.
I would pull a frog’s wishbone,
Tainted by meat, from a pouch,
A new fear to fight the fear of fire,
so I could lead the horses,
like helpless children, to safety.
Stanza Three
The Horse Whisperer’s talents
were in need until the arrival of
the tractor – he then goes into
exile
I swore I would protect
this legacy of whispers
but the tractor came over the fields
like a warning. I was the life-blood
no longer. From pulpits
I was scorned as demon and witch.
Pitchforks drove me from villages and farms.
The arrival of the tractor makes
the Whisperer’s skills seem
dangerous and superstitious
nonsense: he is denounced in
churches as a witch/demon
Stanza Four
Leaves the countryside
who used to need him, he
feels resentful
My gifts were tools of revenge.
A foul hex above a stable door
so a trusted stallion could be ridden
no more. Then I joined the stampede,
with others of my kind,
to countries far from our trade.
The Whisperer takes his revenge on
the community who no longer
needs him and puts a curse above
the stable door so the horses
behave badly.
Stanza Five
Present tense
Still I miss them. Shire, Clydesdale, Suffolk.
The searing breath, glistening veins,
steady tread and the pride,
most of all the pride.
The narrator pays tribute to the horses
he used to tame
The poem ends with a
strong sense of nostalgia for
the past and pride in himself
shown through the
repetition of the word
‘pride’
A few questions…
• How are the horses presented in the poem?
(find words that show this)
• The farmers shout yet the Whisperer is in
harmony with them
• How is the art of Horse Whispering
presented? (find the words that show this)
• What do you notice about the stanzas?
Why did Forster write this poem?
• A lament for the past
• A celebration of horses – a huge sense of
regret in their decline following the arrival of
other transportation
• To show the lost world of mystery and magic
• A reflection of the loss created by
technological progress hi miss!!!!
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Horse Whisperer File - the Redhill Academy