- Human relationships with animals
- Horse whisperers were highly skilled workers who had a psychological understanding of horses. Growing industrialisation, and the decline in the use of horses for work, meant that the trade of a horse whisperer died out. They were eventually driven away from their villages due to suspicion of their craft – much like the witches in The Crucible.
Form and Structure:
Irregular stanzas, free verse. First person narrative, you can’t quite tell what gender the speaker is – suggests that they speak for all horse whisperers.
Stanzas 1 and 2 are an introduction to the trade, the repetition of ‘They shouted for me/when their horses snorted’. Emphasises that the horse whisperer used to feel needed (past tense)
Stanza 3 suggests a change ‘but the tractor came over the fields’ when industrialisation takes over.
Stanza 4 highlights the revenge that the narrator takes ‘My gifts were the tools of revenge’.
Stanza 5 reveals how much they miss horse whispering ‘the pride/most of all the pride’.
Language of witchcraft:
‘My secret was a spongy tissue, pulled bloody…’
‘scented with rosemary, cinnamon,/a charm’
‘frog’s wishbone, tainted by meat’
‘legacy of whispers’
‘I was scorned as demon and witch’
‘A foul hex’
The horse whisperer describes his trade as a collection of spells to tame the horses. Ironically, he uses these same spells to get revenge when he is rejected.
Metaphors and similes – Horses:
‘shimmering muscles refused the plough’
‘like helpless children’
Comment on how the poet uses language to reveal the attitudes of the narrator towards the horses.
Where can these feelings be seen in the poem? Use quotations to support your answer.
Notes collected by Chandni.