Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Kingdom for a Horse: An Anthology of Poems about Horses

Back when I was in summer school, working on my M.Ed., I would find myself up in Round Rock with some time to kill before the gates opened at the Diamond, so I would sometimes stop in at the Hastings up there. They happened to have a shelf in the children's book department full of used books. One of the ones I picked up that summer was My Kingdom for a Horse: An Anthology of Poems about Horses (recommended for ages 8 to 12 years old), edited by Betty Ann Schwartz and illustrated by Alix Berenzy.

I've had a love of horses since I was a little girl. Always wanted to go on the pony rides whenever we went to a fair or fest or some such. Got to get on one of the Army's horses from the equestrian unit out of Fort Hood when they came to Fort Bliss for some sort of exhibition when I was in junior high. Went on a couple of trail rides in my 20s, and I was finally able to really learn how to ride when I lived in Austin in the early 90s, taking adult beginner hunter/jumper lessons at Switch Willow Stables in Northwest Austin. I still like horsey books and art (yes, I read The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Sparks, and saw the movie, which was a decent adaptation, but not for kiddos...). So, it was only natural that I would be drawn to a book of poems about horse that were accompanied by lovely illustrations in charcoal and pastels...

Poems included range from those by famous poets - Robert Frost and William Shakespeare - to those adapted from Native American songs, to those composed by names otherwise unknown to me. As with any poetry, not all of the pieces struck my fancy, but I liked the majority of them, with a few really striking a cord:

Early One Morning on Featherbed Lane
by Jack Prelutsky

Early one morning on Featherbed Lane,
I saw a white horse with a strawberry mane,
I jumped on his back just as fast as I could,
and we galloped away to the green willow wood.

We galloped all morning with never a stop,
where mockingbirds whistle and ladybugs hop,
we drank from a stream where the water runs free,
and we slept in the shade of a green willow tree.

In the Beauty Parlor
by April Halprin Wayland
(accompanied by a charcoal drawing of a little girl with her toy horse, seen peeking out from behind her mother's skirt, which is draped down from the beautician's chair...)

I am sitting under the chair
the haircutting lady is trimming Mom's hair.
My horse is asking, "Is there any more?"
grazing in the curls upon the floor.

The Policeman's Horse
by Betty Ann Schwartz

Standing tall
Gentle and brave
A marvel of poise
Despite the city's incessant noise

Do I dare approach
And touch his nose?

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