Taming the Wild Horse by W. G. Simms

Last night he trampled with a thousand steeds The trembling desert. Now, he stands alone— His speed hath baffled theirs. His fellows lurk, Behind, on heavy sands, with weary limbs That cannot reach him. From the highest hill, He gazes o'er the wild whose plains he spurned, And his eye kindles, and his breast expands, With an upheaving consciousness of might. He stands an instant, then he breaks away, As revelling in his freedom. What if art, That strikes soul into marble, could but seize That agony of action,—could impress Its muscular fulness, with its winged haste, Upon the resisting rock, while wonder stares, And admiration worships? There,—away— As glorying in that mighty wilderness, And conscious of the gazing skies o'erhead, Quiver for flight, his sleek and slender limbs, Elastic, springing into headlong force— While his smooth neck, curved loftily to arch, Dignifies flight, and to his speed imparts The majesty, not else its attribute. And, circling, now he sweeps, the flowery plain, As if 'twere his—imperious, gathering up His limbs, unwearied by their sportive play, Until he stands, an idol of the sight.
He stands and trembles! The warm life is gone That gave him action. Wherefore is it thus? His eye hath lost its lustre, though it still Sends forth a glance of consciousness and care, To a deep agony of acuteness wrought, And straining at a point—a narrow point— That rises, but a speck upon the verge Of the horizon. Sure, the humblest life, Hath, in God's providence, some gracious guides, That warn it of its foe. The danger there, His instinct teaches, and with growing dread, No more solicitous of graceful flight, He bounds across the plain—he speeds away, Into the tameless wilderness afar, To 'scape his bondage. Yet, in vain his flight— Vain his fleet limbs, his desperate aim, his leap Through the close thicket, through the festering swamp, And rushing waters. His proud neck must bend Beneath a halter, and the iron parts And tears his delicate mouth. The brave steed, Late bounding in his freedom's consciousness, The leader of the wild, unreached of all, Wears gaudy trappings, and becomes a slave.
He bears a master on his shrinking back, He feels a rowel in his bleeding flanks, And his arched neck, beneath the biting thong, Burns, while he bounds away—all desperate— Across the desert, mad with the vain hope To shake his burden off. He writhes, he turns On his oppressor. He would rend the foe, Who subtle, with less strength, had taken him thus, At foul advantage—but he strives in vain. A sudden pang—a newer form of pain, Baffles, and bears him on—he feels his fate, And with a shriek of agony, which tells, Loudly, the terrors of his new estate, He makes the desert—his own desert—ring With the wild clamors of his new born grief. One fruitless effort more—one desperate bound, For the old freedom of his natural life, And then he humbles to his cruel lot, Submits, and finds his conqueror in man!