Those lumbering horses in the steady plough,
On the bare field-I wonder why, just now,
They seem terrible, so wild and strange,
Like magic power on the stony grange.
Perhaps some childish hour has come again,
When I watched fearful, through the blackening rain,
Their hooves like pistons in an ancient mill
Move up and down, yet seem as standing still.
Their conquering hooves which trod the stubble down
Were ritual that turned the field to brown,
And their great hulks were seraphim of gold,
Or mute ecstatic monsters on the mould.
And oh the rapture, when, one furrow done,
They marched broad-breasted to the sinking sun!
The light flowed off their bossy sides in flakes;
The furrows rolled behind like struggling snakes.
But when at dusk with streaming nostrils home
They came, they seemed gigantic in the gloam
And warm and glowing with mysterious fire
That lit their smouldering bodies in the mire.
Their eyes as brilliant and as wide as the night
Gleamed with a cruel apocalyptic light.
Their manes the leaping ire of the wind
Lifted with rage invisible and blind.
Ah, now it fades! It fades! And I must pine
Again for that dread country crystalline,
Where the black field and the still-standing tree
Were bright and fearful presences to me.