Grandsons Trey and Tanner riding Old Charley on their farm in Michigan, circa 1993-4.
Charley was a sturdy cross between a draft horse and a pony.
The darker pines in the right background have recently become
a Little Traverse Conservancy Nature Preserve: The Waldron Fen,
in Emmet County, Michigan.
Memories of Horses
The lines in the hands of old people
gradually curve over and will point soon toward earth.
They take with them their secret language,
cloud-words and wind-letters,
all the signs the heart gathers up in the lean year.
Sorrow bleaches out and turns to face the stars
but memories of horses, women's feet, children
flow from their faces down to the grass kingdom.
In huge trees we can often see
images of the peace in the sides of animals,
and the wind sketches in the grass, if you are happy,
running children and horses.
Rolf Jacobsen (1907-1994)
Translated from the Norwegian by Robert Hedin.
The Roads Have Come to an End Now; selected and last poems of Rolf Jacobsen, Copper Canyon Press, 2001, page 79. (Bilingual edition with the Norwegian text on the facing page.)
Jacobsen is of the generation of my parents, Jack and Olga, who were born in December, 1906 and April, 1907. Although Jacobsen wrote long ago, he is a recent discovery for me, through the translations by Robert Bly. Many critics feel Jacobsen ranks with the greatest 20th century Moderns, such as Auden, Eliot and Montale. In this poem, I am particularly fond of the compound words: cloud-words and wind-letters.
Bonus Horses from the Antiquities Museum in Athens
from the trip to Greece.