The man who goes into the fight
With the heart of a volunteer,
Has the high ideal of doing right,
To conquer his pain and fear;
And the man who is forced to go
Has his pride, and his will, and his faith,
To help him over the road of woe
To the goal of a crutch, or death.

But the steed that is dragged from his stall
To be plunged in the hell of war--
Why, what does he know of the country's call,
Or the cause he is suffering for?
But I think when he lies in his pain,
Tortured and torn by the fray,
He must long for a touch of a hand on his mane,
And the fields where he used to play.

The world as we see it now
Is only half man-made;
As the horse recedes with a parting bow
We know the part he has played.
For the wonderful brain of a man,
However mighty its force,
Had never achieved its lordly plan
Without the aid of the horse.

The forests felled by hand
By the horse were carried away;
And furrow and field were made to yield
By his willing toil each day.
He helped bring true in this age
The visions our forbears saw;
And oft was given a grudging wage--
Scant fare and a bundle of straw.

The horse has no passion to kill
Like man and the tiger and bear;
Yet, slave of a murderous will,
To the front of the fight he must fare.

Now the heart of a horse has love
For the master and home it knew:
And the mind of a horse can prove
That memory dwells there too.

Oh, I think on the blood red sod
Each wounded man prays to God:
And I think from the heart of a steed
There must rise in his hour of need
A cry for his master who seems
A god in his equine dreams.

Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.

Back to Poem Index