Roan Stallion Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


The dog barked then the woman stood in the doorway and hearingA
iron strike stone down the steep roadB
Covered her head with a black shawl and entered the light rainC
she stood at the turn of the roadB
A nobly formed woman erect and strong as a new tower theD
features stolid and darkE
But sculptured into a strong grace straight nose with a high bridgeF
firm and wide eyes full chinG
Red lips she was only a fourth part Indian a Scottish sailor hadH
planted her in young native earthI
Spanish and Indian twenty one years before He had named herJ
California when she was bornK
That was her name and had gone northL
She heard the hooves andM
wheels come nearer up the steep roadB
The buckskin mare leaning against the breastpiece plodded intoN
sight round the wet bankO
The pale face of the driver followed the burnt out eyes they hadH
fortune in them He sat twistedP
On the seat of the old buggy leading a second horse by a longQ
halter a roan a big oneR
That stepped daintily by the swell of the neck a stallion 'WhatP
have you got Johnny ' 'Maskerel's stallionR
Mine now I won him last night I had very good luck ' He wasS
quite drunk 'They bring their mares up here nowT
I keep this fellow I got money besides but I'll not show you 'U
'Did you buy something JohnnyV
For our Christine Christmas comes in two days Johnny ' 'ByW
God forgot ' he answered laughingA
'Don't tell Christine it's Christmas after while I get her somethingA
maybe ' But CaliforniaD
'I shared your luck when you lost you lost me once Johnny rememberJ
Tom Dell had me two nightsX
Here in the house other times we've gone hungry now thatP
you've won Christine will have her ChristmasY
We share your luck Johnny You give me money I go down toP
Monterey to morrowZ
Buy presents for Christine come back in the evening Next dayP
Christmas ' 'You have wet ride ' he answeredP
Giggling 'Here money Five dollar ten twelve dollar YouP
buy two bottles of rye whiskey for Johnny 'U
A right I go to morrow 'U
He was an outcast Hollander notP
old but shriveled with bad livingA
The child Christine inherited from his race blue eyes from hisA2
life a wizened forehead she watchedP
From the house door her father lurch out of the buggy and leadP
with due respect the stallionR
To the new corral the strong one leaving the wearily breathingA
buckskin mare to his wife to unharnessA2
Storm in the night the rain on the thin shakes of the roof likeB2
the ocean on rock streamed battering once thunderJ
Walked down the narrow canyon into Carmel valley and woreC2
away westward Christine was wakefulD2
With fears and wonders her father lay too deep for storm toP
touch himE2
Dawn comes late in the year's darkE
Later into the crack of a canyon under redwoods and CaliforniaD
slipped from bedP
An hour before it the buckskin would be tired there was a littleD2
barley and why should JohnnyV
Feed all the barley to his stallion That is what he would do SheV
tip toed out of the roomF2
Leaving her clothes he'd waken if she waited to put them onG2
and passed from the door of the houseA2
Into the dark of the rain the big black drops were cold throughP
the thin shift but the wet earthI
Pleasant under her naked feet There was a pleasant smell in theD
stable and moving softlyV
Touching things gently with the supple bend of the unclothedP
body was pleasant She found a boxA2
Filled it with sweet dry barley and took it down to the oldP
corral The little mare sighed deeplyV
At the rail in the wet darkness and California returning betweenH2
two redwoods up to the houseA2
Heard the happy jaws grinding the grain Johnny could mindP
the pigs and chickens Christine called to herJ
When she entered the house but slept again under her hand SheV
laid the wet night dress on a chair backI2
And stole into the bedroom to get her clothes A plank creakedP
and he wakened She stood motionlessA2
Hearing him stir in the bed When he was quiet she stooped afterJ
her shoes and he said softlyV
'What are you doing Come back to bed ' 'It's late I'm goingA
to Monterey I must hitch up '-
'You come to bed first I been away three days I give you moneyV
I take back the moneyV
And what you do in town then ' she sighed sharply and came toP
the bedP
He reaching his hands from itP
Felt the cool curve and firmness of her flank and half risingA
caught her by the long wet hairJ2
She endured and to hasten the act she feigned desire she had notP
for long except in dream felt itP
Yesterday's drunkenness made him sluggish and exacting sheV
saw turning her head sadlyV
The windows were bright gray with dawn he embraced her stillD2
stopping to talk about the stallionR
At length she was permitted to put on her clothes Clear daylightP
over the steep hillsA2
Gray shining cloud over the tops of the redwoods the winterJ
stream sang loud the wheels of the buggyV
Slipped m deep slime ground on washed stones at the road edgeK2
Down the hill the wrinkled river smothered the fordP
You must keep to the bed of stones she knew the way by willowD2
and alder the buckskin halted mid streamL2
Shuddering the water her own color washing up to the tracesA2
but California drawing upM2
Her feet out of the whirl onto the seat of the buggy swung theD
whip over the yellow waterJ
And drove to the roadP
All morning the clouds were racing northwardP
like a river At noon they thickenedP
When California faced the southwind home from Monterey itP
was heavy with level rainfallD2
She looked seaward from the foot of the valley red rays criedP
sunset from a trumpet of streamingA
Cloud over Lobos the southwest Occident of the solstice TwilightP
came soon but the tired mareJ2
Feared the road more than the whip Mile after mile of slowD2
gray twilightP
Then quite suddenly darknessA2
'Christine will be asleep It is Christmas Eve The ford That hourJ
of daylight wasted this morning '-
She could see nothing she let the reins lie on the dashboard andP
knew at length by the cramp of the wheelsA2
And the pitch down they had reached it Noise of wheels onG2
stones plashing of hooves in water a worldP
Of sounds no sight the gentle thunder of water the mare snortingA
dipping her head one knewP
To look for footing in the blackness under the stream TheD
hushing and creaking of the sea windP
In the passion of invisible willowsA2
The mare stood still the womanR
shouted to her spared whipN2
For a false leap would lose the track of the ford She stoodP
'The baby's things ' thought CaliforniaD
'Under the seat the water will come over the floor' and risingA
in the midst of the waterJ
She tilted the seat fetched up the doll the painted wooden chickensA2
the woolly bear the bookO2
Of many pictures the box of sweets she brought them all fromP2
under the seat and stored them tremblingA
Under her clothes about the breasts under the arms the cornersA2
of the cardboard boxesA2
Cut into the soft flesh but with a piece of rope for a girdle andP
wound about the shouldersA2
All was made fast The mare stood still as if asleep in the midstP
of the water Then CaliforniaD
Reached out a hand over the stream and fingered her rump theD
solid wet convexity of itP
Shook like the beat of a great heart 'What are you waitingA
for ' But the feel of the animal surfaceA2
Had wakened a dream obscured real danger with a dream ofQ2
danger 'What for For the water stallionR
To break out of the stream that is what the rump strains forC2
him to come up flinging foam sidewiseA2
Fore hooves in air crush me and the rig and curl over hisA2
woman ' She flung out with the whip thenR2
The mare plunged forward The buggy drifted sidelong wasA2
she off ground Swimming No by the splashesA2
The driver a mere prehensile instinct clung to the side ironsA2
of the seat and felt the forceA2
But not the coldness of the water curling over her knees breakingA
up to the waistP
Over her body They'd turned The mare had turned up streamL2

Robinson Jeffers


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