The Old Kent Horse

We drive on through the night
On this snowy Christmas Eve.
But village lights ahead I see
Which offer some reprieve.

I urge my Old Horse onward
Though he is almost spent.
For he has brought us far this day
And we're here at last, in Kent.

We find a sheltered field to stop
And though the winter's chill
My wife prepares the meagre meal
For the children, who are ill.

But she and I will have to wait
No food for us I fear.
For we have travelled far this day
And hunger pains grow near.

I take the harness from my horse
And lead him to a hedge.
But he, exhausted, cannot eat
And stands and sleeps instead.

A stranger suddenly appears
And looking at my horse,
Demands of me "How much?"
The man is bold and coarse.

I know we need the money
And I know we need the food.
My faithful horse is past his prime
And no longer any good.

I tell the stranger of my price
And he, with hand outstretched,
Is quick to offer ten gold coins
In response to my request.

And I, with brimming eyes
For the last time take the rope,
And place it on my horse's neck
But no words are bespoke.

But no. I cannot let him go.
He's been with me too long.
He's been the length of England
And brought us back again.

He's pulled our painted caravan
Through hail and wind and snow.
He is as much my own blood now.
No. I cannot let him go.

I give the stranger back his coins.
Ask him please to understand
Why I cannot let my Old Horse go.
He's the best in all the land.

I put my hand about his neck
My fingers through his mane.
My wife gives me her knowing smile.
He'll not be sold again.

And all at once a star appears
All bright in the Eastern sky.
And outlined in the snowy night
Are my family and I.

We remember it is Christmas Eve
And tho the years will pass,
We will stay together always.
Our Old Kent Horse, and us.

Copyright Elizabeth DeLeo

The above of course, is purely fiction. I wrote it as a tribute
to a horse whom I think was one of the best, if not "the" best,
the breed has ever known.

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