And the horses rush in
Tunes for a Monday Morning

Daily Myth

Ponies 1

Fridays are my day for re-visiting posts from the Myth & Moor archves. This one comes from March, 2014....

Animal encounters often come in clusters -- one month there are deer bounding constantly through the woods, another month brings several badger sightings in a row or the frog population exploding in the pond or hedgehogs appearing under every hedge and bush. In naturalist terms, this is easily explained by the seasonal cycles of animal life -- but in folkloric terms, the meeting of animals has deep mythic significance, for in traditional stories and sacred texts the world over animals are both themselves and more-than-themselves: creatures who negotiate the Mysteries, the elders and the teachers of humankind, messengers from the gods, the fates, the faeries, the nonhuman realms and the lands of the dead, speaking in the language of symbolism, metaphor, riddle, taradiddle, and dream.

Ponies 2

For Tilly and me (and indeed for many in Chagford), the month of March has been marked by encounters with wild ponies...for this is the season they come down to graze and give birth on the village Commons. We often see them sunning on the Commons, or climbing the slope of Nattadon Hill, walking the path in a single file as they come and go from the open moor.

Ponies 3

Tilly is fascinated by them, though knows she musn't bark or get underfoot. They're gentle with her and allow her to pass close...though this will change when the foals are born.

Ponies 4

Looking down on the valley from my studio windows, I can watch the herd as it drifts across the land -- stopping now in this field and now in that one, disappearing for days and then back again. As they roam across the moor and the lanes and fields nearby, Dartmoor's famous, much-loved ponies are iconic creatures of flux and flow, of duality and liminality -- not entirely wild, not entirely tamed.  They are spirits of edges, borders, interstices, and the faery paths betwixt and between. They are modern and archaic, common and uncanny, gentle and fierce. They are only ponies. They are so much more.

Ponies 5

In mythic symbolism world-wide, both horses and ponies represent the following things:

Physical strength, inner strength, vitality, appetite for life, the driving force that carries you forward, the driving force that overcomes obstacles, passion, movement, flow, self-expression, and that which makes you thrive. They are also symbols of vital life forces held in perfect, exquisite balance: love and devotion paired with freedom and mobility; the wild and instinctive supported by the disciplined and domestic; strength balanced with vulnerability, mastery with modesty, power with compassion.


Movement. Flow. Vitality. That's just what I need -- what many of us need -- as winter slowly turns to spring. If winter was the time for staying still and dreaming deep, spring is when the sap rises and pushes us back up to the sun again; a time to open to new ideas, new possibilities, new creative directions. "May what I do flow from me like a river," said Rilke, "no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children." The way it is with wild ponies too, as they flow across the Devon landscape.

Tilly and the ponies

And here's the other gift the ponies bring, and it's one I value equally:

In an age when Beauty is so often defined by the tall, the slim, and the ethereal, the ponies show me that there is also Beauty to be found in what is small, shaggy, sturdy, and built for endurance. Like me. And like so many of us. We are ourselves and more-than-ourselves; ordinary and extraordinary. It's good to be reminded.

Ponies 6

Ponies 7

Photographs above: Dartmoor ponies grazing on the Commons. The pony in the 4th & 5th picture was carrying a foal in her belly at the time; it was born on the Commons just a few days later. You can see a picture of the wee newborn here. Another lovely foal is here.

If you'd like a few more ponies today, try John O'Donohue's beautiful "Philosophy of Compassion," or "Entering the Realm of Myth."

The poem in the picture captions is from Above the River by James Wright  (Wesleyan University Press, 1990); all rights reserved by the author.


Wonderful James Wright poem!


The moment grew longer between us.
Me measuring the length of his body,
spit of tail, muscles
of his corded chest, the wildness.
He counting the space, the pace
of my breath, breadth of my body,
how many bites it would take.

I could feel the relief when air,
like a rubber band, released us,
he trotting off towards the copse,
me to the safety of the house,
the comfort of a cup of tea.

The wild has two parts:
meeting and memory,
neither one entirely safe.

©2017 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

We agreed on peace, not pieces.
The relief flowed like the nearby rill,
all the way into the river.

Ignore the 3lines under the copyright. I deleted them as bad bad bad but obviously didn't delete them well enough.


(((Terri))) that beautiful bay pony in the first photo has taken my heart back to the wild pony dreaming of my childhood, thank you!

I have a lovely book about horses in Native American myth. I wanted to share a few of my favorite parts, but it's still boxed up in storage from my move. Maybe next time the subject comes up, I will be more prepared.

Just note on this entry -- I accidentally posted this first under the wrong blog entry -- yesterday's which was entitled, "The Horses Rush in". This is meant to go with and inspired by today's pictures and writings. So I apologize for the double posting, here and in the post below it.

Dear Terri

I think when a person has encountered "daily myth" through interaction with the landscape, its wild species, like ponies, deer, bird/water life and other elements, something mystical happens and shapes the mind/heart/spirit permanently. It stays with you into adulthood, even if denied or left to sleep for awhile in the shadows of the subconscious. I love the analogy you have made between human character/needs and the ways of the small horses that inhabit your village. They migrate as do people, dreams and thoughts. I have a dear friend ( my sister-in-law) who comes from Hungarian roots and has never been able to shed her gypsy ways or beliefs. She has tried and often questions why she can't seem to escape her "inherited" nature. Every few years, she senses something in the migrating birds, change of season and wind direction that propels her to move to another state ( change of venue, job and perspective). She takes the risk of the unknown and simply trusts there will be something to sustain her in the newness of place and time. These photos today and the writing has reminded me of her, her mystical/Hungarian lineage and need to keep migrating and mixing with the unknown.

After Moving Into A Downtown Condo

( For Anna)

Looking at the photograph of our day
in the country, I see a stranger. A girl with red hair
sprawling over the wind like sorrel, a rampant weed
suggestive of her gypsy roots.

There under the oak’s refuge, is the person
I left behind -- watching grass and wild ponies
paint the field with motion, maybe knowing
they've descended from those who were hitched
to that wagon hauling my ancestor
with her beads and strange belongings
out of the east. I have shed my addiction
to storytellers and tarot cards, stones and stars; and yet
the queen of the Magyars still haunts,
lining my skin like the luminous satin
of a trunk or cape. And if you were to snap
a picture of me (now) in this room of glass and steel,
she would appear -- shadow permeating form, breath through body.

A double exposure seen by those few who know
its natural, not intended --
just there. Always there. Indelible.

Again, thank you for this extraordinary post and breathtaking pictures.

My Best

Hi Jane

Wonderful poem -- love how you so skillfully with intensity and an immediacy of place/moment create this encounter between human and species! This poem holds one's attention from start to finish; and those last stanzas are powerful with strong insight/impact.

I could feel the relief when air,
like a rubber band, released us,
he trotting off towards the copse,
me to the safety of the house,
the comfort of a cup of tea.

The wild has two parts:
meeting and memory,
neither one entirely safe.

Take care

Alas that there are no wild ponies where I live! I will simply have to make do with bunnies.

I loved this post when you first published it, resonating particularly with the description of your dear Devon ponies being small shaggy and built for endurance. Still vibe to the word waves, and still am myself small, shaggy, built for endurance, and round.

Thanks, Wendy, I do especially like the last three lines.
Always love hearing your take.


Oh my--if I ever write lines like this I will be happy:

"A girl with red hair
sprawling over the wind like sorrel..."


Dear Jane

It's always reassuring for me to hear that lines work in a poem; and I so deeply appreciate your wonderful words regarding that! Thank you, so, so much!

Please take care,
My Best

Thank you for reposting. Beautiful. Thank you for the ponies. And thank you for the word "taradiddle". =)

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