Shakespeare's Horse

He was a man knew horses, so we moved
As wills were one, and all was won at will,
In hand with such sleight handling as improved
Those parks and parcels where we’re racing still,

Pounding like pairs of hooves or pairs of hearts
Through woodland scenes and lush, dramatic spaces, 
With all our parts in play to play all parts
In pace with pace to put us through his paces.

Ages have passed. All channels channel what
Imagined these green plots and gave them names
Down to the smallest role, if and and but,
What flies the time (the globe gone up in flames),

What thunders back to ring the ringing course
And runs like the streaking will, like Shakespeare’s horse.

Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Harrison. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 10, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

About this Poem

“The story that Shakespeare got his start in theater by taking care of the horses audience members rode to plays, serving as the Elizabethan equivalent of a parking valet, is probably apocryphal. But he would have ridden horses frequently, especially as he traveled between London and Stratford. Though he may never have owned one, I like to imagine that for several years he had a particular favorite, and that he even, on occasion, composed in his head while he rode.”

—Joseph Harrison