The memory of horses in the poet’s past brings back a range of feelings he has of horses. He finds them magical, other –worldly, admirable and awe-inspiring.
The sight of horses in the present leads the poet to consider his feelings towards horses when he was a child. ‘Perhaps some childish hour has come.’
TONE (attitude of the poet to his subject) The attitude of the poet is first of awe as he looked at the horses with the eyes of a child. The wonder and awe turned to admiration, to a feeling that the horses were magical and belonged to another world. The final stanza expresses sadness and longing for the past.
The poem is in 7 stanzas of rhyming verse. The first stanza is the sight of horses in the present. Each of the remaining stanzas contains a distinct feeling and thought about the horses of his memory.
The 1st and 2nd lines rhyme and the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme.
The rhymes give a sense of unity to the poem.
IMAGERY POINT: In stanza 1, the sight of horses in the present leads the poet to remember the horses of his past
The poet draws on legendary creatures to compare the horses with. His reverence for the horses continue with the image of angels of gold ‘seraphims of gold’ and rapturous legendary creatures ‘mute ecstatic monsters’.
POINT: Stanza 4 the ‘rapture’ conveys a sense of the poet worshipping these horses.
They marched broad-breasted to the sinking sun!
The effect is similar to that in the earlier line of ‘conquering hooves’. The horses are conquerors who march in triumph at the end of the day as their work is done.
The light flowed off their bossy sides in flakes;
The effect of the glow from the setting sun on the horses’ sides is that they are bathed in gold.
POINT: In stanza 5, the poet sees the horses as mysterious and magical.
They seemed gigantic in the gloam
Again the poet refers to the enormous size ‘gigantic’ which echoes the earlier description of ‘great hulks’ .
And warm and glowing with mysterious fire
That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.
He continues the idea in the earlier stanza that they looked golden in the sunset (‘gloam’). ‘Glowing with mysterious fire’ links with ‘magic power’ in stanza 1.
Smouldering bodies continues the image ofthe horses looking as if they were on fire.
The effect is of the magical and awesome appearance of the horses.
The furrows rolled behind like struggling snakes
Snuggling snakes give the sense of the power of horses.
POINT: Stanza 6 presents the horses as powerfully destructive in a religious way.