“Hwaer cwom mearg? Hwaer cwom mago?”
Oft has the warhorse, the wayworn widowmaker, with wearied withers been dismissed from battle, bereft of bit and bridle, saddened and saddle-sore, to survive his final charge, his last campaign— the paddock, the pack, the stall. So I speak as a steed strapping in skirmish, stronger in winters, now without a warrior or a war. I was bred a weapon, weaned for the watch-fire and the horn at dawn, the hoarse cries of riders rampant in the rush toward death, daring, undespairing, because boldness was their birthright and their choice. From a colt I was chosen, broken, raised a chieftain among chargers, cruel of hoof, a stampeding sword. Of slaughter I am now deprived, and of my death- friends, passed beneath the pastureland, the bloodless grass that I am given to eat, and live. I love the balefire, not the hay-bale, the haw and brawl of the hale champion, the split helm. Where now the war-mare? Where the spur, and the spurnful stallion? Where the fight-scarred filly? They are gone, my glory-herd; they have galloped to the grave. Now I await a drafthorse’s doom. Fate has left me hoary, hobbled— flouted by peace, and peacetime’s fodder.