Week 42: From ‘All The Pretty Horses’, by Cormac McCarthy

A ‘prose poem’ as such is almost invariably a heartsink of a thing, a miserable affectation neither fish, flesh nor fowl, but that’s not to say one can’t find poetry in prose, words that by their rhythm and resonance enter and possess the mind in the way that a poem can do. I love these lines from Cormac McCarthy’s ‘All The Pretty Horses’, as the young men set out on their journey of love and loss.

‘They rode out along the fenceline and across the open pastureland. The leather creaked in the morning cold. They pushed the horses into a lope. The light fell away behind them. They rode out on the high prairie where they slowed the horses to a walk and the stars swarmed around them out of the blackness. They heard somewhere in that tenantless night a bell that tolled and ceased where no bell was and they rode out on the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing.’


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