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The Willing Horse

 

The Willing Horse

I'd rather be the willing horse that people ride to death
Than be the proud and haughty steed that children dare not touch;
I'd rather haul a merry pack and finish out of breath
Than never leave the barn to toil because I'm worth too much.
So boast your noble pedigrees
And talk of manners, if you please--
The weary horse enjoys his ease
    When all his work is done;
The willing horse, day in and out,
Can hear the merry children shout
And every time they are about
    He shares in all their fun.

I want no guards beside my door to pick and choose my friends for me;
I would not be shut off from men as is the fancy steed;
I do not care when I go by that no one turns his eyes to see
The dashing manner of my gait which marks my noble breed;
I am content to trudge the road
And willingly to draw my load--
Sometimes to know the spur and goad
    When I begin to lag;
I'd rather feel the collar jerk
And tug at me, the while I work,
Than all the tasks of life to shirk
    As does the stylish nag.

So let me be the willing horse that now and then is overtasked,
Let me be one the children love and freely dare to ride--
I'd rather be the gentle steed of which too much is sometimes asked
Than be the one that never knows the youngsters at his side.
So drive me wheresoe'er you will,
On level road or up the hill,
Pile on my back the burdens still
    And run me out of breath--
In love and friendship, day by day,
And kindly words I'll take my pay;
A willing horse; that is the way
    I choose to meet my death.

By Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959), When Day is Done.