The Color of Ginger

The Color of Ginger

Image from Ealdgyth
Today is more of a play than a poem, but the words are poetic nonetheless. This is an excerpt from William Shakespeare, Henry V (Act III).

What a long night is this! I will not change my
horse with any that treads but on four pasterns.
Ca, ha! he bounds from the earth, as if his
entrails were hairs; le cheval volant, the Pegasus,
chez les narines de feu! When I bestride him, I
soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth
sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his
hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.

He’s of the colour of the nutmeg.

And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for
Perseus: he is pure air and fire; and the dull
elements of earth and water never appear in him, but
only in Patient stillness while his rider mounts
him: he is indeed a horse; and all other jades you
may call beasts.

Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent horse.

It is the prince of palfreys; his neigh is like the
bidding of a monarch and his countenance enforces homage.

No more, cousin.

Nay, the man hath no wit that cannot, from the
rising of the lark to the lodging of the lamb, vary
deserved praise on my palfrey: it is a theme as
fluent as the sea: turn the sands into eloquent
tongues, and my horse is argument for them all:
’tis a subject for a sovereign to reason on, and for
a sovereign’s sovereign to ride on; and for the
world, familiar to us and unknown to lay apart
their particular functions and wonder at him. I
once writ a sonnet in his praise and began thus:
‘Wonder of nature,’–

I have heard a sonnet begin so to one’s mistress.

Then did they imitate that which I composed to my
courser, for my horse is my mistress.

More Henry

If you enjoyed this bit, then you may want to check out the whole play. You can read the whole Henry V play here. Be sure to also check out another Shakespearean horse reference in Venus and Adonis.