Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: The Horses of Meaning by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
In Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin‘s “The Horses of Meaning,” what happens after release—of horses, of words on a page—is “the next bit of the story.” This month marks the publication of Ní Chuilleanáin’s momentous Collected Poems, which gathers nine volumes of poetry from nearly 50 years. This poem, originally from her collection The Girl Who Married the Reindeer (2001), represents the “booming canter” of her oeuvre.
The Horses of Meaning
Let their hooves print the next bit of the story:
release them, roughmaned
from the dark stable where
they rolled their dark eyes, shifted and stamped—
let them out, and follow the sound, a regular clattering
on the cobbles of the yard, a pouring round the corner
into the big field, a booming canter.
Now see where they rampage,
and whether they are suddenly halted
at the check of the line westward
where the train passes at dawn—
If they stare at land that looks white in patches
as if it were frayed to bone (the growing light
will detail as a thickening of small white flowers),
can this be the end of their flight?
The wind combs their long tails, their stalls are empty.