Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
VI. Animate Nature
The Arab to his Favorite Steed
Caroline Elizabeth Sarah (Sheridan) Norton (1808–1877)
 
MY beautiful! my beautiful! that standest meekly by,
With thy proudly arched and glossy neck, and dark and fiery eye,
Fret not to roam the desert now, with all thy wingèd speed;
I may not mount on thee again,—thou ’rt sold, my Arab steed!
Fret not with that impatient hoof,—snuff not the breezy wind,—        5
The farther that thou fliest now, so far am I behind;
The stranger hath thy bridle-rein,—thy master hath his gold,—
Fleet-limbed and beautiful, farewell; thou ’rt sold, my steed, thou ’rt sold.
 
Farewell! those free, untired limbs full many a mile must roam,
To reach the chill and wintry sky which clouds the stranger’s home;        10
Some other hand, less fond, must now thy corn and bed prepare,
Thy silky mane, I braided once, must be another’s care!
The morning sun shall dawn again, but nevermore with thee
Shall I gallop through the desert paths, where we were wont to be;
Evening shall darken on the earth, and o’er the sandy plain        15
Some other steed, with slower step, shall bear me home again.
 
Yes, thou must go! the wild, free breeze, the brilliant sun and sky,
Thy master’s house,—from all of these my exiled one must fly;
Thy proud dark eye will grow less proud, thy step become less fleet,
And vainly shalt thou arch thy neck, thy master’s hand to meet.        20
Only in sleep shall I behold that dark eye, glancing bright;—
Only in sleep shall hear again that step so firm and light;
And when I raise my dreaming arm to check or cheer thy speed,
Then must I, starting, wake to feel,—thou ’rt sold, my Arab steed!
 
Ah! rudely then, unseen by me, some cruel hand may chide,        25
Till foam-wreaths lie, like crested waves, along thy panting side:
And the rich blood that ’s in thee swells, in thy indignant pain,
Till careless eyes, which rest on thee, may count each starting vein.
Will they ill-use thee? If I thought—but no, it cannot be,—
Thou art so swift, yet easy curbed; so gentle, yet so free:        30
And yet, if haply, when thou ’rt gone, my lonely heart should yearn,—
Can the hand which casts thee from it now command thee to return?
 
Return! alas! my Arab steed! what shall thy master do,
When thou, who wast his all of joy, hast vanished from his view?
When the dim distance cheats mine eye, and through the gathering tears        35
Thy bright form, for a moment, like the false mirage appears;
Slow and unmounted shall I roam, with weary step alone,
Where, with fleet step and joyous bound, thou oft hast borne me on;
And sitting down by that green well, I ’ll pause and sadly think,
“It was here he bowed his glossy neck when last I saw him drink!”        40
 
When last I saw thee drink!—Away! the fevered dream is o’er,—
I could not live a day, and know that we should meet no more!
They tempted me, my beautiful!—for hunger’s power is strong,—
They tempted me, my beautiful! but I have loved too long.
Who said that I had given thee up? who said that thou wast sold?        45
’T is false,—’t is false, my Arab steed! I fling them back their gold!
Thus, thus, I leap upon thy back, and scour the distant plains;
Away! who overtakes us now shall claim thee for his pains!
 
 
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