WITH THE EYES OF THE SUN


For Erika Ricci and Anna Lisa Rosetti

 

i

 

”I am not dumb now,” was Helen Keller’s proud,

challenging statement of fact. Those who can

see, she said, should be “knights of the blind”.

 

ii

 

From the horsemen of the Apocalypse

to the breaking, millennia ago,

of wild horses on the western steppes

beyond Volga-Matushka – Mother Volga –

these beasts are both utility and symbol.

 

In the Aber Valley, where the Afon Goch –

the Red River – falls precipitously

and the princes of Gwynedd rode and hunted,

there have been feral ponies for centuries,

grazing by the river, under the alders,

unmolested. Last year’s snows culled many.

 

In Ireland, where the horse was revered in myth,

the companion of kings and goddesses,

there are thousands abandoned. In Dublin,

on a cut-off estate – workless, drug-peddled –

a man ran over a horse with a quad bike

repeatedly, and others beat it with planks.

 

iii

 

We visited the Palazzo dei Duchi –

near to the site of the town’s small ghetto –

by the Catania Gate, Taormina,

Sicily, once a medieval palace  built by

Spanish nobles, knights of the inquisition,

now the municipal art gallery.

And, by chance, we encountered a tale

of beasts made beautiful, the lost found.

 

Twenty nine paintings hung in the gallery:

an exhibition – that toured Milan,

Rimini, Terra del Sole and Forli –

to celebrate human diversity

and the curative power of horses.

It was inspired by a horse called King,

an Arabian gelding blinded

by corrosive chemicals –

il cavallo daglie occhi di sole,

the horse with the eyes of the sun.

His affliction, his strength, his compliance

rescued a young woman, an addict,

from her darkened, silenced wilderness.

 

 

 

Note: The Horse With The Eyes Of The Sun http://www.kingilcavallodagliocchidisole.it/king.html

 

 

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  1. #1 by John Huddart - September 29th, 2017 at 15:47

    A fine theme to choose, for the September collection, and sweeping wide across Europe to illustrate the mythic power of our old companion. As ever, you educate from the saddle of your own travels, and joy of learning.

  2. #2 by David Selzer - September 29th, 2017 at 15:53

    ‘…you educate from the saddle of your own travels…’ Good stuff!

  3. #3 by Alan Horne - September 29th, 2017 at 16:32

    I am very much enjoying your series of poems related to horses this month. As regards this one, it reminds me of a friend who worked as a housing support officer on the council estates in Stockport. One of the items on her regular checklist was “unauthorised horses.” People would buy horses from the gypsies who graze them on the fields in the Mersey valley close to Stockport centre, and pasture them on the open grassy areas on the estates. Problems might then arise if they couldn’t manage them and left them to roam. It’s easy to see the difficulties, and the humour of it. But I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for someone who might see that the daughters of wealthy people a few miles away in Cheshire could have horses, and wonder: why shouldn’t my daughter have one too?

  4. #4 by John Huddart - September 29th, 2017 at 17:43

    Alan needs to write this as a poem, before someone else nicks the material!

  5. #5 by David Selzer - September 29th, 2017 at 17:47

    I think you’re right, Alan. And I think many people, certainly a generation ago, on council estates were much closer to a rural past than their surroundings might suggest. Many of the pupils at Stanney Comprehensive in Ellesmere Port, where I taught in the ’80s, were children of people resettled from the Liverpool slums. Some, however, had Wirral roots. I remember particularly one boy, apparently thoroughly urbanised – truancy, glue sniffing, police cautions – and who lived in one of the most deprived wards in the country, telling me almost wistfully, during an options interview when we were discussing what sort of job he would like to do, that his granddad had been a thatcher. PS My spell checker queried ‘thatcher’ with a lower case ‘t’. Appropriately ironic given the times!

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