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IN THE SADDLE

A COLLECTION OF POEMS ON HORSEBACK-RIDING

"_A good rider on a good horse is as much above himself and
others as the world can make him_"

Lord Herbert of Cherbury

BOSTON
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
1882


Copyright, 1882,
BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

_All rights reserved._

_The Riverside Press, Cambridge:_
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.




CONTENTS.

Page

DESCRIPTION OF A HORSE. _Venus and Adonis_ 1

A DAY'S RIDE: A LIFE'S ANALOGY. _The Spectator_ 2

ON HORSEBACK. _E. Paxton Hood_ 3

THE HORSEBACK RIDE. _Sara Jane Lippincott_ (_Grace Greenwood_) 4

AN EVENING RIDE. _Owen Innsly_ 7

THE QUEEN'S RIDE. _T. B. Aldrich_ 8

THE LAST RIDE TOGETHER. _Robert Browning_ 9

RIDING TOGETHER. _William Morris_ 13

SIR LAUNCELOT AND QUEEN GUINEVERE. _Alfred Tennyson_ 15

THE KING OF DENMARK'S RIDE. _Hon. Caroline Norton_ 17

RHYME OF THE DUCHESS MAY. _Elizabeth Barrett Browning_ 19

IRMINGARD'S ESCAPE. _Henry Wadsworth Longfellow_ 37

WILLIAM AND HELEN. _Bürger's "Leonore."
Translated by Sir Walter Scott_ 42

THE GREETING ON KYNAST. _Rückert. Translated by C. T. Brooks_ 52

HARRAS, THE BOLD LEAPER. _Karl Theodor Körner.
Translated by G. F. Richardson_ 57

THE KNIGHT'S LEAP. _Charles Kingsley_ 60

THE LEAP OF ROUSHAN BEG. _Henry Wadsworth Longfellow_ 61

ANNAN WATER 64

THOMAS THE RHYMER 66

THE GREEK GNOME. _Robert Buchanan_ 70

FRIAR PEDRO'S RIDE. _Bret Harte_ 73

TAM O'SHANTER. _Robert Burns_ 79

THE WILD HUNTSMAN. _Bürger's Wilde Jäger. Tr. by Walter Scott_ 86

LÜTZOW'S WILD CHASE. _Theodor Körner_ 94

THE ERL-KING. _Walter Scott_ 96

MAZEPPA'S RIDE. _Byron_ 98

THE GIAOUR'S RIDE. _Byron_ 110

THE NORSEMAN'S RIDE. _Bayard Taylor_ 113

BOOT AND SADDLE. _Robert Browning_ 116

THE CAVALIER'S ESCAPE. _Walter Thornbury_ 116

KING JAMES'S RIDE. _Walter Scott_ 118

DELORAINE'S RIDE. _Walter Scott_ 119

GODIVA. _Alfred Tennyson_ 124

HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX. _Robert Browning_ 127

THE LANDLORD'S TALE. _H. W. Longfellow_ 130

SHERIDAN'S RIDE. _Thomas Buchanan Read_ 135

KEARNY AT SEVEN PINES. _Edmund Clarence Stedman_ 138

THE RIDE OF COLLINS GRAVES. _John Boyle O'Reilly_ 140

A TALE OF PROVIDENCE. _Isaac R. Pennybacker_ 143

KIT CARSON'S RIDE. _Joaquin Miller_ 149

TAMING THE WILD HORSE. _W. G. Simms_ 155

CHIQUITA. _Bret Harte_ 157

BAY BILLY. _Frank H. Gassaway_ 160

WIDDERIN'S RACE. _Paul Hamilton Hayne_ 164

THE DIVERTING HISTORY OF JOHN GILPIN. _William Cowper_ 174

REFLECTIONS OF A PROUD PEDESTRIAN. _Oliver Wendell Holmes_ 184




IN THE SADDLE.


DESCRIPTION OF A HORSE.


Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
In limning out a well-proportioned steed,
His art with nature's workmanship at strife,
As if the dead the living should exceed;
So did this horse excel a common one,
In shape, in courage, color, pace, and bone.

Round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong,
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
Look, what a horse should have, he did not lack,
Save a proud rider on so proud a back.

_Venus and Adonis._




A DAY'S RIDE: A LIFE'S ANALOGY.


'Mid tangled forest and o'er grass plains wide,
By many a devious path and bridle-way,
Through the short brightness of an Indian day,
In middle winter 'twas my lot to ride,
Skirting the round-topped, pine-clad mountain side,
While far away upon the steely blue
Horizon, half concealèd, half in view,
Himalay's peaks upreared their snow-crowned pride,
In utter purity and vast repose.
I, ere the first faint flush of morning glowed
Within her eastern chamber, took the road,
And, slowly riding between day and night,
I marked how, through the wan, imperfect light,
Ghost-like and gray loomed the eternal snows.

So near they seemed, each crack and crevice small
Like bas-relief work showed, while in the light
Of ruddy morn, gray changed through pink to white.
But soon the sun, up-climbing, flooded all
The heavens, and then a thin and misty pall
Of exhalations rose, and pale of hue
And fainter ever those far summits grew,
Until the day waned low, and shadows tall
Sloped eastward. Then once more, in radiance clear,
Of setting sunlight, beautiful as brief,
Each peak and crag stood out in bold relief,
Till, slowly, pink faded to ghostly gray.
So through life's morning, noontide, evening, may
Ideal hopes dawn, fade, and reappear.

_The Spectator._




ON HORSEBACK.


Hurrah! for a ride in the morning gray,
On the back of a bounding steed.
What pleasure to list how the wild winds play;
Hark! Hark! to their music, - away! away!
Gallop away with speed.
'Neath the leaf and the cloud in spring-time's pride
There is health in a morning's joyous ride.

And hurrah! for a ride in the sultry noon,
When the summer has mounted high,
'Neath the shady wood in the glowing June,
When the rivulet chanteth its lullaby tune
To the breeze as it wanders by,
Quietly down by the brooklet's side; -
Sweet is the summer's joyous ride.

And do you not love at evening's hour,
By the light of the sinking sun,
To wend your way o'er the widening moor,
Where the silvery mists their mystery pour,
While the stars come one by one?
Over the heath by the mountain's side,
Pensive and sweet is the evening's ride.

I tell thee, O stranger, that unto me
The plunge of a fiery steed
Is a noble thought, - to the brave and free
It is music, and breath, and majesty, -
'Tis the life of a noble deed;
And the heart and the mind are in spirit allied
In the charm of a morning's glorious ride.

Then hurrah! for the ring of the bridle rein, -
Away, brave horse, away!
The preacher or poet may chant their strain,
The bookman his wine of the past may drain, -
We bide not with them to-day;
And yet it is true, we may look with pride
On the mental spoils of a morning's ride.

_E. Paxton Hood._




THE HORSEBACK RIDE.


When troubled in spirit, when weary of life,
When I faint 'neath its burdens, and shrink from its strife,
When its fruits, turned to ashes, are mocking my taste,
And its fairest scene seems but a desolate waste,
Then come ye not near me, my sad heart to cheer
With friendship's soft accents or sympathy's tear.
No pity I ask, and no counsel I need,
But bring me, oh, bring me my gallant young steed,
With his high archèd neck, and his nostril spread wide,
His eye full of fire, and his step full of pride!
As I spring to his back, as I seize the strong rein,
The strength to my spirit returneth again!
The bonds are all broken that fettered my mind,
And my cares borne away on the wings of the wind;
My pride lifts its head, for a season bowed down,
And the queen in my nature now puts on her crown!

Now we're off - like the winds to the plains whence they came;
And the rapture of motion is thrilling my frame!
On, on speeds my courser, scarce printing the sod,
Scarce crushing a daisy to mark where he trod!
On, on like a deer, when the hound's early bay
Awakes the wild echoes, away, and away!
Still faster, still farther, he leaps at my cheer,
Till the rush of the startled air whirs in my ear!
Now 'long a clear rivulet lieth his track, -
See his glancing hoofs tossing the white pebbles back!
Now a glen dark as midnight - what matter? - we'll down
Though shadows are round us, and rocks o'er us frown;
The thick branches shake as we're hurrying through,
And deck us with spangles of silvery dew!

What a wild thought of triumph, that this girlish hand
Such a steed in the might of his strength may command!
What a glorious creature! Ah! glance at him now,
As I check him a while on this green hillock's brow;
How he tosses his mane, with a shrill joyous neigh,
And paws the firm earth in his proud, stately play!
Hurrah! off again, dashing on as in ire,
Till the long, flinty pathway is flashing with fire!
Ho! a ditch! - Shall we pause? No; the bold leap we dare,
Like a swift-wingèd arrow we rush through the air!
Oh, not all the pleasures that poets may praise,
Not the 'wildering waltz in the ball-room's blaze,
Nor the chivalrous joust, nor the daring race,
Nor the swift regatta, nor merry chase,
Nor the sail, high heaving waters o'er,
Nor the rural dance on the moonlight shore,
Can the wild and thrilling joy exceed
Of a fearless leap on a fiery steed!

_Sara Jane Lippincott_ (_Grace Greenwood_).




AN EVENING RIDE.

FROM GLASHÜTTE TO MÜGELN IN SAXONY.


We ride and ride. High on the hills
The fir-trees stretch into the sky;
The birches, which the deep calm stills,
Quiver again as we speed by.

Beside the road a shallow stream
Goes leaping o'er its rocky bed:
Here lie the corn-fields with a gleam
Of daisies white and poppies red.

A faint star trembles in the west;
A fire-fly sparkles, fluttering bright
Against the mountain's sombre breast;
And yonder shines a village light.

Oh! could I creep into thine arms
Beloved! and upon thy face
Read the arrest of dire alarms
That press me close; from thy embrace

View the sweet earth as on we ride.
Alas! how vain our longings are!
Already night is spreading wide
Her sable wing, and thou art far.

_Owen Innsly._




THE QUEEN'S RIDE.

AN INVITATION.


'Tis that fair time of year,
Lady mine,
When stately Guinevere,
In her sea-green robe and hood,
Went a-riding through the wood,
Lady mine.

And as the Queen did ride,
Lady mine,
Sir Launcelot at her side
Laughed and chatted, bending over,
Half her friend and all her lover,
Lady mine.

And as they rode along,
Lady mine,
The throstle gave them song,
And the buds peeped through the grass
To see youth and beauty pass,
Lady mine.

And on, through deathless time,
Lady mine,
These lovers in their prime,
(Two fairy ghosts together!)
Ride, with sea-green robe, and feather!
Lady mine.

And so we two will ride,
Lady mine,
At your pleasure, side by side,
Laugh and chat; I bending over,
Half your friend and all your lover!
Lady mine.

But if you like not this,
Lady mine,
And take my love amiss,
Then I'll ride unto the end,
Half your lover, all your friend!
Lady mine.

So, come which way you will,
Lady mine,
Vale, upland, plain, and hill
Wait your coming. For one day
Loose the bridle, and away!
Lady mine.

_T. B. Aldrich._




THE LAST RIDE TOGETHER.


I said - Then, dearest, since 'tis so,
Since now at length my fate I know,
Since nothing all my love avails,
Since all my life seemed meant for, fails,
Since this was written and needs must be -
My whole heart rises up to bless
Your name in pride and thankfulness!
Take back the hope you gave, - I claim
Only a memory of the same,
- And this beside, if you will not blame,
Your leave for one more last ride with me.

My mistress bent that brow of hers,
Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs
When pity would be softening through,
Fixed me a breathing-while or two
With life or death in the balance - Right!
The blood replenished me again:
My last thought was at least not vain.
I and my mistress, side by side
Shall be together, breathe and ride,
So one day more am I deified.
Who knows but the world may end to-night?

Hush! if you saw some western cloud
All billowy-bosomed, over-bowed
By many benedictions - sun's
And moon's and evening-star's at once -
And so, you, looking and loving best,
Conscious grew, your passion drew
Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too
Down on you, near and yet more near,
Till flesh must fade for heaven was here! -
Thus leant she and lingered - joy and fear!
Thus lay she a moment on my breast.

Then we began to ride. My soul
Smoothed itself out, a long-cramped scroll
Freshening and fluttering in the wind.
Past hopes already lay behind.
What need to strive with a life awry?
Had I said that, had I done this,
So might I gain, so might I miss.
Might she have loved me? just as well
She might have hated, - who can tell?
Where had I been now if the worst befell?
And here we are riding, she and I.

Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
Why, all men strive and who succeeds?
We rode; it seemed my spirit flew,
Saw other regions, cities new,
As the world rushed by on either side.
I thought, All labor, yet no less
Bear up beneath their unsuccess.
Look at the end of work, contrast
The petty Done the Undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful past!
I hoped she would love me. Here we ride.

What hand and brain went ever paired?
What heart alike conceived and dared?
What act proved all its thought had been?
What will but felt the fleshly screen?
We ride and I see her bosom heave.
There's many a crown for who can reach
Ten lines, a statesman's life in each!
The flag stuck on a heap of bones,
A soldier's doing! what atones?
They scratch his name on the Abbey-stones.
My riding is better, by their leave.

What does it all mean, poet? well,
Your brain's beat into rhythm - you tell
What we felt only; you expressed
You hold things beautiful the best,
And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
'Tis something, nay 'tis much - but then,
Have you yourself what's best for men?
Are you - poor, sick, old ere your time -
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turned a rhyme?
Sing, riding's a joy! For me, I ride.

And you, great sculptor - so you gave
A score of years to art, her slave,
And that's your Venus - whence we turn
To yonder girl that fords the burn!
You acquiesce and shall I repine?
What, man of music, you grown gray
With notes and nothing else to say,
Is this your sole praise from a friend,
"Greatly his opera's strains intend,
But in music we know how fashions end!"
I gave my youth - but we ride, in fine.

Who knows what's fit for us? Had fate
Proposed bliss here should sublimate
My being; had I signed the bond -
Still one must lead some life beyond,
- Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried.
This foot once planted on the goal,
This glory-garland round my soul,
Could I descry such? Try and test!
I sink back shuddering from the quest -
Earth being so good, would heaven seem best?
Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride.

And yet - she has not spoke so long!
What if heaven be, that, fair and strong
At life's best, with our eyes upturned
Whither life's flower if first discerned,
We, fixed so, ever should so abide?
What if we still ride on, we two,
With life forever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity, -
And heaven just prove that I and she
Ride, ride together, forever ride?

_Robert Browning._




RIDING TOGETHER.


For many, many days together
The wind blew steady from the east;
For many days hot grew the weather,
About the time of our Lady's Feast.

For many days we rode together,
Yet met we neither friend nor foe;
Hotter and clearer grew the weather,
Steadily did the east-wind blow.

We saw the trees in the hot, bright weather,
Clear-cut, with shadows very black,
As freely we rode on together
With helms unlaced and bridles slack.

And often as we rode together,
We, looking down the green-banked stream,
Saw flowers in the sunny weather,
And saw the bubble-making bream.

And in the night lay down together,
And hung above our heads the rood,
Or watched night-long in the dewy weather,
The while the moon did watch the wood.

Our spears stood bright and thick together,
Straight out the banners streamed behind,
As we galloped on in the sunny weather,
With faces turned towards the wind.

Down sank our threescore spears together,
As thick we saw the pagans ride;
His eager face in the clear fresh weather
Shone out that last time by my side.

Up the sweep of the bridge we dashed together,
It rocked to the crash of the meeting spears;
Down rained the buds of the dear spring weather,
The elm-tree flowers fell like tears.

There, as we rolled and writhed together,
I threw my arms above my head,
For close by my side, in the lovely weather,
I saw him reel and fall back dead.

I and the slayer met together,
He waited the death-stroke there in his place,
With thoughts of death, in the lovely weather
Gapingly mazed at my maddened face.

Madly I fought as we fought together;
In vain: the little Christian band
The pagans drowned, as in stormy weather
The river drowns low-lying land.

They bound my blood-stained hands together,
They bound his corpse to nod by my side:
Then on we rode, in the bright March weather,
With clash of cymbals did we ride.

We ride no more, no more together;
My prison-bars are thick and strong,
I take no heed of any weather,
The sweet Saints grant I live not long.

_William Morris._




SIR LAUNCELOT AND QUEEN GUINEVERE.

A FRAGMENT.


Like souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sunlit fall of rain.
In crystal vapor everywhere
Blue isles of heaven laughed between,
And far, in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm-tree gathered green
From draughts of balmy air.

Sometimes the linnet piped his song:
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong:
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheeled along,
Hushed all the groves from fear of wrong:
By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
Above the teeming ground.

Then, in the boyhood of the year,
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere
Rode through the coverts of the deer,
With blissful treble ringing clear.
She seemed a part of joyous Spring:
A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
Buckled with golden clasps before;
A light-green tuft of plumes she bore
Closed in a golden ring.

Now on some twisted ivy-net,
Now by some tinkling rivulet,
In mosses mixt with violet
Her cream-white mule his pastern set:
And fleeter now she skimmed the plains
Than she whose elfin prancer springs
By night to eery warblings,
When all the glimmering moorland rings
With jingling bridle-reins.

As she fled fast through sun and shade,
The happy winds upon her played,
Blowing the ringlet from the braid:
She looked so lovely, as she swayed
The rein with dainty finger-tips,
A man had given all other bliss,
And all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss
Upon her perfect lips.

_Alfred Tennyson._




THE KING OF DENMARK'S RIDE.


Word was brought to the Danish king,
Hurry!
That the love of his heart lay suffering,
And pined for the comfort his voice would bring;
O, ride as though you were flying!
Better he loves each golden curl
On the brow of that Scandinavian girl
Than his rich crown jewels of ruby and pearl;
And his rose of the isles is dying!

Thirty nobles saddled with speed;
Hurry!
Each one mounting a gallant steed
Which he kept for battle and days of need;
O, ride as though you were flying!
Spurs were struck in the foaming flank;
Worn-out chargers staggered and sank;
Bridles were slackened, and girths were burst;
But ride as they would, the king rode first,
For his rose of the isles lay dying!

His nobles are beaten, one by one;
Hurry!
They have fainted, and faltered, and homeward gone;
His little fair page now follows alone,
For strength and for courage trying!
The king looked back at that faithful child;
Wan was the face that answering smiled;
They passed the drawbridge with clattering din,
Then he dropped; and only the king rode in
Where his rose of the isles lay dying!

The king blew a blast on his bugle-horn;
Silence!
No answer came; but faint and forlorn
An echo returned on the cold gray morn,
Like the breath of a spirit sighing.
The castle portal stood grimly wide;
None welcomed the king from that weary ride;
For dead, in the light of the dawning day,
The pale sweet form of the welcomer lay,
Who had yearned for his voice while dying!

The panting steed, with a drooping crest,
Stood weary.
The king returned from her chamber of rest,
The thick sobs choking in his breast;
And, that dumb companion eying,
The tears gushed forth which he strove to check;
He bowed his head on his charger's neck;
"O steed, that every nerve didst strain,
Dear steed, our ride hath been in vain
To the halls where my love lay dying!"

_Hon. Caroline Norton._




RHYME OF THE DUCHESS MAY.


Broad the forests stood (I read) on the hills of Linteged -
_Toll slowly._
And three hundred years had stood mute adown each hoary wood,
Like a full heart having prayed.

And the little birds sang east, and the little birds sang west, -
_Toll slowly._
And but little thought was theirs of the silent antique years,
In the building of their nest.



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