Poem introduction

This is a poem about a dream I had and which I tried to tell as accurately as I could because it seemed to me a classic one, that is to say a dream that anyone might have dreamt.

The Ride

The Ride

The horse beneath me seemed
to know what course to steer
Through the horror of snow I dreamed,
And so I had no fear,

Nor was I chilled to death
By the wind's white shudders, thanks
To the veils of his patient breath
And the mist of sweat from his flanks.

It seemed that all night through,
Within my hand no rein
And nothing in my view
But the pillar of his mane,

I rode with magic ease
At a quick, unstumbling trot
Through shattering vacancies
On into what was not,

Till the weave of the storm grew thin,
With a threading of cedar-smoke,
And the ice-blind pane of an inn
Shimmered, and I awoke.

How shall I now get back
To the inn-yard where he stands,
Burdened with every lack,
And waken the stable-hands

To give him, before I think
That there was no horse at all,
Some hay, some water to drink,
A blanket and a stall?

from Collected Poems 1943-2004 (Waywiser, 2005), copyright © Richard Wilbur 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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1A Barred Owl

2For C.


4At Moorditch




8Crows' Nests

9Bone Key

10A Cry from Childhood

11A Wall in the Woods: Cummington


13This Pleasing Anxious Being

14The Ride


16The Catch


18Trolling for Blues


20A Finished Man

21Hamlen Brook

22A Storm in April

23The Writer

24To The Etruscan Poets

25The Eye

26Piccola Commedia

27The Mind-Reader