Pegasus

Pegasus is a poem very popular in Ireland and was written by the literary giant Patrick Kavanagh. It tells the story of a man trying to sell his old horse, but no one is interested as the horse is clearly too old to work.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
Patrick Kavanagh

So the man is forced to keep it, but is not upset as the poem ends on a high note with the man and horse ready to venture off to wherever their imaginations take them.

Pegasus by Patrick Kavanagh. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Pegasus

My soul was an old horse
Offered for sale in twenty fairs.
I offered him to the Church–the buyers
Were little men who feared his unusual airs.
One said: ‘Let him remain unbid
In the wind and rain and hunger
Of sin and we will get him–
With the winkers thrown in–for nothing.’

Then the men of State looked at
What I’d brought for sale.
One minister, wondering if
Another horse-body would fit the tail
That he’d kept for sentiment-
The relic of his own soul–
Said, ‘I will graze him in lieu of his labour.’
I lent him for a week or more
And he came back a hurdle of bones,
Starved, overworked, in despair.
I nursed him on the roadside grass
To shape him for another fair.

I lowered my price. I stood him where
The broken-winded, spavined stand
And crooked shopkeepers said that he
Might do a season on the land–
But not for high-paid work in towns.
He’d do a tinker, possibly.
I begged, ‘O make some offer now,
A soul is a poor man’s tragedy.
He’ll draw your dungiest cart,’ I said,
‘Show you short cuts to Mass,
Teach weather lore, at night collect
Bad debts from poor men’s grass.’
And they would not.

Where the
Tinkers quarrel I went down
With my horse, my soul.
I cried, ‘Who will bid me half a crown?’
From their rowdy bargaining
Not one turned. ‘Soul,’ I prayed,
‘I have hawked you through the world
Of Church and State and meanest trade.
But this evening, halter off,
Never again will it go on.
On the south side of ditches
There is grazing of the sun.
No more haggling with the world….’

As I said these words he grew
Wings upon his back. Now I may ride him
Every land my imagination knew.

Pegasus by Patrick Kavanagh. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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