A little colt – broncho, loaned to the farm
To be broken in time without fury or harm,
Yet black crows flew past you, shouting alarm,
Calling “Beware,” with lugubrious singing…
The butterflies there in the bush were romancing,
The smell of the grass caught your soul in a trance,
So why be a-fearing the spurs and the traces,
O broncho that would not be broken of dancing?

You were born with the pride of the lords great and olden
Who danced, through the ages, in corridors golden.
In all the wide farm-place the person most human.
You spoke out so plainly with squealing and capering,
With whinnying, snorting, contorting and prancing,
As you dodged your pursuers, looking askance,
With Greek-footed figures, and Parthenon paces,
O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.

The grasshoppers cheered. “Keep whirling,” they said.
The insolent sparrows called from the shed
“If men will not laugh, make them wish they were dead.”
But arch were your thoughts, all malice displacing,
Though the horse-killers came, with snake-whips advancing.
You bantered and cantered away your last chance.
And they scourged you, with Hell in their speech and their faces,
O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.

“Nobody cares for you,” rattled the crows,
As you dragged the whole reaper, next day, down the rows.
The three mules held back, yet you danced on your toes.
You pulled like a racer, and kept the mules chasing.
You tangled the harness with bright eyes side-glancing,
While the drunk driver bled you – a pole for a lance –
And the giant mules bit at you – keeping their places.
O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.

In that last afternoon your boyish heart broke.
The hot wind came down like a sledge-hammer stroke.
The blood-sucking flies to a rare feast awoke.
And they searched out your wounds, your death-warrant tracing.
And the merciful men, their religion enhancing,
Stopped the red reaper, to give you a chance.
Then you died on the prairie, and scorned all disgraces,
O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.

5 Comments

  1. Laurie Fenner says:

    This poem has remained deep within my heart since I first read it over 40 years ago. It speaks to what is forever wild in our nature. Unbroken.

  2. charles coleman says:

    One of the greatest poems I ever read, the felicitous lyrics took my mind on mental flights and left me perched on the wings of its words” /o bronco that would not be broken of dancing [MAY YOUR SPIRIT ]live in me Charles Daniel Coleman

  3. harley moore says:

    i had to read this at school and it sucked!!!!!!!!!!

    who would read this and like it?!?!?!?!

  4. M ary Ellen says:

    I love the symbolism in this poem. We are all broncos sent to be broken. We were all children once, natural and genuine. We are to be taught our place in society. We are taught to conform, to give up our true selves in order to be accepted and loved. The Bronco loved himself and was true to himself despite the cost. He is a sort of Christ figure who is brutally killed by those in power who are blind to his sacredness and courage.

  5. Pam OConnell says:

    I first read four lines from this poem, “The butterflies there in the bush were romancing,
    The smell of the grass caught your soul in a trance,
    So why be a-fearing the spurs and the traces,
    O broncho that would not be broken of dancing?”

    About 18 years ago in an advertisement for a stallion in a horse magazine, I came across these lines. They have never left my consciousness.

    As a lifetime owner of horses, nothing has touched me like these lines, and it was wonderful to at last, find this website and the rest of this epic poem. I am very grateful for that, and look forward to reading all of the poems posted. Thank you!

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