photo © Walter Workman, walterworkman.com; seek permission for use
HOOFS OF THE HORSES
by Will Ogilvie (1869-1963)
The hoofs of the horses!—Oh! witching and sweet
Is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet;
No whisper of lover, no trilling of bird
Can stir me as hoofs of the horses have stirred.
They spurn disappointment and trample despair,
And drown with their drum-beats the challenge of care;
With scarlet and silk for their banners above,
They are swifter then Fortune and sweeter than Love.
On the wings of the morning they gather and fly,
In the hush of the night-time I hear them go by—
The horses of memory thundering through
With flashing white fetlocks all wet with the dew.
When you lay me to slumber no spot can you choose
But will ring to the rhythm of galloping shoes,
And under the daisies no grave be so deep
But the hoofs of the horses shall sound in my sleep
by Will Ogilvie from Galloping Shoes, 1922
Scotsman Will Ogilvie lived in Australia for a dozen years, where he became a top station hand, drover, and horse breaker.
In the current episode of Andy Hedges’ Cowboy Crossroads, respected horseman, braider, and reciter Randy Rieman gives his impressive presentation of the poem (at 39:40).
Wylie Gustafson set the poem to music, and the song appears on Wylie & the Wild West’s Hooves of the Horses CD. Find a video here.
Ogilvie was a popular writer who contributed to the Bulletin—the paper that published poets and writers including Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, Harry “Breaker” Morant (Ogilvie’s close friend), and others—even after his return to Scotland.
Find more at CowboyPoetry.com.