Ruba’i: If wishes were horses

There is a horse for me to ride
Out there, my brand burned on his hide
His bay coat shining in the sun
With all the country open wide

Before us, and we’re free to run:
We’ve paid our dues, the work’s all done.
And so we’ll roam the smiling land
Our minds in tune, our wills as one.

This horse of mine’s a real hand;
He knows his stuff, and has the sand
To go all day, then go some more.
We need no words: we understand

Each other perfectly. I’m sure
He reads my thoughts: even before
I’ve asked, he’ll speed up, turn or slow
Then bring me safely to my door.

He is not real, of course. I know
He’s just a crazy dream, and so
I guess I should just let him go.
But it’s so hard to let him go.

12 thoughts on “Ruba’i: If wishes were horses

  1. Hi Nick

    what a lovely poem this ruba i 🙂 and I think it does great justice to the English language here, those rhyming ends are all excellent.
    To have that dream 🙂 the ideal combination of horseman and horse. You have mastered another metrical verse form! 🙂

    When I was a child I rode horse a few times, but never in a speed, just a slow pace. Although I remember now I was on the beach and the horse went too fast for me (it wanted to get to the meadow behind the dunes lol ) but it was a lovely feel!

    To let go of the dream, it must be hard, but perhaps you don’t have to?

    • I must say I’m really enjoying the rubai’ – now I’ve done a few it’s getting easier, but a bit like playing chess, you always have to be thinking a couple of moves ahead, with that third line requiring three more rhymes in the next stanza each time. I like its rather folksy, almost naive feel; it’s a great way to talk about deep subjects while avoiding sentimentality and overdoing things. I haven’t ridden horses much at all in the last 10 years or so; riding centres charge at least £40 an hour, and as for owning one…but even so, the dream won’t quite go away. Never say ‘never’. I guess. Have a wonderful day. N.xx

  2. Nick,

    As ever you have done it again!

    This is a truly wonderful poem – you are so good at all the different forms you try – I could never do it, my brain just doesn’t work that way! 🙂

    And the nearest I have ever been to riding a horse is on a donkey at Bridlington!!

    I think I am a tad mad! – This being about a horse coupled with your word “crazy” in the last stanza brought to mind Crazy Horse, the native American leader and also the band that used to play with Neil Young!! :):) I love Neil Young so thank you for helping to take me there! OMG I am officially crazy (Horse)!!

    Time to shut up and wait for the white coats I think!

    Christine xx

    • The white coats will be a while, because they’re still dealing with me…don’t worry, I’ll stall ’em for you.

      I have a lot of time for Crazy Horse; he did what he had to do to protect his people by coming into the Indian Agency, but he never forgot who he was or where he came from. He didn’t deserve the end he got. I’m not an authority on Neil Young, I must confess; never got much beyond ‘Harvest’, I’m ashamed to say. That’s my homework for the weekend!

      Glad you liked the ruba’i: after the sonnet, I think this is my favourite form.

      Don’t go getting sane on us now.


  3. This is altogether delightful, Nick. I agree with Caddo. Of course, I agree with Caddo more often than not. I think what makes this work so well is the unexpected way you break lines to break up what could become a monotony of rhyme.
    An example:
    We need no words: we understand
    Each other perfectly.
    By carrying the sentence over to the next line you break up the repetition of the “and” rhyme and give a broken rhythm to the strict meter you are keeping. It’s sort of like a painting. I get this from Ethel, of course, not some knowledge I do not have. She says that if everything is perfect when you paint a face it is not alive. The face might be perfect and beautiful, but it does not move on the canvas and let the reader actually see the life in the face. I think that’s true of metrical verse and rhyme too, and I see you doing that over and over again.
    Then the skilled craftsmanship is matched with the subject of the poem: Horses, which Ethel loves above all other animals, and that’s saying something since she loves all animals, and the idea of the dream that does not die even though it’s crazy.
    The trick always is to take craftsmanship and skill, a powerful idea, match it to strong images, and then create a music that resonates to readers. Not any easy thing to accomplish, but as usual, you really accomplish it with this rub’ai.
    I must try one of these one of these days, but after the dragon epic.

    • Must say the ruba’i is running the sonnet a pretty close second as my metrical form of choice these days, Tom. It’s deceptively simple: it has a folksy, song-song quality to it, especially when written in iambic tetrameter, but there’s the plain strength and honesty there, too, that one sees in naive art. I think it’s the third-line rhyme that sets up the following stanza that does it; it locks the whole thing together, somehow, like tenons and mortises in carpentry. And I just knew Ethel would be someone who loves animals: the best people usually are, in my experience. N.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.