Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Peacehorse"

This poem came out of the September 6, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was sponsored by janetmiles. It was inspired by a Facebook post from Sarah A. Hoyt:

For the record, if I read one more story about someone going to battle mounted on a stallion, there's going to be a temper tantrum. (And this one isn't it, yet.)

I remarked that just because stallions tend to be rambunctious doesn't necessarily mean they ALL are, but of course, the unridable stallion really is a cliche.  She replied:

Elizabeth Barrette, Try reading five of these in a row. By the time you get to the "He rode a black stallion, an ungovernable beast only he could mount" you're reaching for the dramamine.
Whereupon I thought that it would be a great deal more interesting to write and read about a mannerly  stallion, who would be more valuable than a bad-tempered one anyhow, and there I was in the midst of a fishbowl about "pets and livestock" so off I went to write this...

The Peacehorse

He rode a black stallion,
a mannerly beast
that anyone could mount.

Now the horse was trained for battle,
fierce under fire,
but calm as could be in the paddock.

The old general rode him to war,
and then to parley,
where he whickered politely at the mares
and then ignored them.

The enemy commander scratched himself thoughtfully
and said, "I don't suppose you'd like to sell your horse?"
The old general replied, "I don't suppose
you'd like to delete paragraph three from section two
of this proposed armistice?"

"Deleting it would be beyond my authority,"
the enemy commander said regretfully.
"Perhaps we could revise  it a bit?
If you'd let him cover some of my mares?"

So the two soldiers
worked out the armistice agreement
while the horses lowered their noses to the clover.

It turned out that the black stallion
had what the breeders called very good stamp,
which meant that the colts and fillies he sired
carried on all his best qualities:
the sleek body, the glossy black coat,
and the even temper.

That was how the black stallion
came to be called the Peacehorse
and how the Hipparchy of Pelip
came to have the steadiest horses in all the lands,
so calm that even the stallions
could be ridden by anyone.

* * *

"The Peacehorse" belongs to The Ocracies series, and you can read its other poems on the Serial Poetry page.  I had been thinking that this fishbowl might spawn a nation run by farmers or something like that.  I was really amused to turn up "hipparchy" in the Phrontistery list, referring to "rule or control of horses," which seemed like a reasonble fit for a nation run by horse breeders.  I suspect it inclines them to take the long view of things, and it certainly influences them in the context of battle and its aftermath.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, writing
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