Agathippos
Madison Brown

 

The Horse:

“Red Crosse Knight, Sir George, my friend, my liege,[1]

’Cross holt and heath, copse and mead, divers lands,

Through daungers[2] grand, heat and rain, snow and pain,

On my back have I not borne thee well and true?

Lest thou forget, it was me, it was, there with thee,

Beside that dragon, the Eastern land’s bane,

The which you hastily slew ’side Adam’s fane.[3]

I and you, together we evil and fear overcame.

I, a courser true, run, run, and chase the wind,

Your hot silvery spurs urging me, pricking me on.

Tireless I am, faultless I am, hapless I am.

All day prattle you on and on about some

Maiden faire and bright; listen I do,

Listen I do – each time I hear the tale:

‘Saracens[4] rude, Sans Foy, Sans Joy, Sans Loy,

Did I fight and win; splayed them wide I did.

And saved a maiden faire and bright, coy too.’

But, lo, look, think my friend, my knight, my liege:

Alexander tamed my kind, Poseidon’s gift,[5]

Conquered the world on his Bucephalus blue.

Old winged Pegasus stood greater than me –

Only but by his wings that bore Bellerophon[6] far.

Horses bearing heroes brave all have names:

Why, wilt thou not name me too? 

Red Crosse, my friend, St. George august,

As thy name shalt immortal stand,

Hold not that high honor back from me.

Strider, Swift Foot, Mercury,[7] Thrax,[8]

Thousand Stepper, Chironides,[9] Arete[10]

Any one will do, just that I am remembered.

The stuff of epic and song is what we are;

To be sung are we, through ages to come.”

 

The Knight:

“Go to, noble steed, you froward[11] beast!

Verily knew not I thou thought such thoughts!

Fie, fie, fie upon me! ’Tis true, ’tis fact,

The deeds, the feats thou hast carried me on.

Forthwith, henceforth, now, today –

Call thee I shall ‘Agathippos.’[12] For indeed –
In troth, in sooth, a good horse art thou”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] The poem is adapted from book one of Sir Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene.

[2] Intentional archaisms are used to reflect French pronunciations in Middle English and remember archaic grammatical constructions.

[3] From Latin fanum, grove.

[4] Sons of Sarah.

[5] Poseidon originally gave mankind the horse, per Greek myth.

[6] Slayer of the Chimera; cf. Illiad vi.155-203.

[7] Roman name for Hermes, the wing-footed god.

[8] “The Thracian” – from Thrace, a barbaric area north of Greece proper.

[9] A patronymic, “son of Chiron,” a famous centaur.

[10] Greek: virtue, goodness, excellence.

[11] Disobedient, obstinant.

[12] Greek: Agathos, good + hippos, horse.