Donald Hall’s vivid poetic work ‘Names of Horses’ is a musical piece, illustrating for the reader, in detail, a horse’s lifetime oppression. How difficult the horse’s work is, is what’s most important about this poem. The author sets up a compressed build -up of pathos, – thus, having been achieved by descriptive imagery: ‘..brute shoulders strained against collars’ (Hall 1), ‘ash humes’ (Hall 2);
‘shuddering in your skin’ (Hall 20). Thus, is also important: ‘gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack’ (Hall 10). -boom—boom, boom -boom.
Basically, it makes me think of the horse from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Old Major. The utilitarian oppressors killed the dang thing because it no longer turned a profit for them. ‘The man who fed you and kept you’ (Hall 18).
Funny thing, though, is the man hadn’t ‘kept or ‘fed’ the horse. If the poor thing only hadn’t been domesticated in the first place, thus never would’ve happened. It could’ve kept and fed its own self. Then the oppressor buries the poor dang thing, without even giving it a proper headstone. ‘old toilers, soil makers.’
Thus, makes me think about Josef Stalin; how he’d taken the leftover corpses from the Gulags and used them to insulate the insides of dams for waterways… Aside from being plain old bad engineering, the general act was rather unethical [in that these unpaid workers had succeeded in building an industrialized Soviet Union and made Stalin, the utilitarian, a very rich man].
So, what is there left to be said about this? That young men like me should spoil their youth on whores and drink, because, in the end, all will be stolen away from us anyway. —
Kyle Scott, ‘O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost’ (Hall 29)
Let’s just call it iambic, shall we? I could further state, that men like Friedrich Nietzsche retain a small consolation, in that they act on their own behalf, as both the horse and the executioner. Sorry, detract that statement; better, apply it to both Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace… I think that every writer should keep at least one bullet /capsule /rope saved for him or herself, for whenever the time is right. From the -moment a person becomes a writer, there is a fire set inside them, sometimes flaring up but always burning out.
So, why spend 500 words speaking on and on about what’s already so inevitable? Better I save my energies for my full -time overnights at the 7/11 for nine bucks an hour, selling blank & milds to wino hookers, while trying to appear nonmenacing to the discontented, young black men; as inherited wealth gobbles up whatever’s left of the universities.
– Kyle Scott
Name Of Horses – Poem by Donald Hall
“All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.
In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;
and after noon’s heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.
Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.
When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,
and lay the shotgun’s muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.
For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground – old toilers, soil makers:
O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.”