The Passing of the Horse

"Sentimental Fool," I said,
"With feed so high, we can't keep Ned.
Machines have now replaced his need;
We can't just give him space and feed."
Mother and I discussed it well
And knew what we must do,
We'd call the man to come for Ned,
"I'm getting older, too,
And cannot long be counted on
To do this daily chore."

(Tomorrow will seem odd to me
When Ned is here no more;
But this is sensible, of course.)
"I think I'll take my light
And see that Ned is bedded down---
Being this is his last night."
I took my lantern from its hook
And paid a call on Ned.
He whinnied when I reached the door
And scrabbled up from bed.
He surely has a lovely coat;
A horse should look that way,

Especially Ned, for I had loved
To curry him each day.
I held an ear of corn outstretched;
He rubbed me with his nose,
And sitting on an oat-bin near,
I soon began to doze.
I dreamed of how this century
Had watched an "era" pass;
The need of horse, momentous once,
Yield to machines and gas.
My seasoned heart recalled
The thrill of beat of kettledrums

When down the street in some parade
A jet black stallion comes.
I thought of cannons pulled
Upon a field where war was done;
How great a part the horses played
In battles we had won.

And the white majestic beauties
Who answered firemen's call;
The broken horse, but loyal still,
who carried milk to all.
And just as great a part as these
The farmer's horse has played;

He followed pioneers
Across the trails that oxen made.
His day was long, his work well done,
His fee just grain and bed,
And through his loyal help with plow,
Man made his daily bread.
I started from my reverie---
Saw mother standing there;
The tears were in her aging eyes---
The moonlite on her hair.
"Oh, John, my dear, I came to say,
We just can't part with Ned.

I'll help you, dear, take care of him;
It won't be hard," she said.
"And grain---Well we can manage;
It will take a bit of course,
But Ned has been so faithful,
He's more family than horse."
And she knew from my quick handclasp
She'd voiced my own thoughts, too.

We patted Ned a fond good-night
And in our hearts both knew
That just because his day was done
In usefulness and skill
He has an ever major part
In history books to fill:
This country's youth had great demand
For power, and not much source;
It owes so much of greatness
With the passing of the horse.
"And sentimental fool or not,
I'd rather give my bed,
Than find myself begrudging space
To this past-hero, Ned."

~Harriet Elmblad~

Appeared in an old IDEALS Magazine

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