Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound
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FHL WEEK, September 1, 2020

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Riding Lesson


Henry Taylor is an American poet, author of more than fifteen books of poems, and winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

henry s. taylor2

I learned two things
from an early riding teacher.
He held a nervous filly
in one hand and gestured
with the other, saying, "Listen.
Keep one leg on one side,
the other leg on the other side,
and your mind in the middle."

He turned and mounted.
She took two steps, then left
the ground, I thought for good.
But she came down hard, humped
her back, swallowed her neck,
and threw her rider as you'd
throw a rock. He rose, brushed
his pants and caught his breath,
and said, "See, that's the way
to do it. When you see
they're gonna throw you, get off."

Taylor was born in 1942 in Lincoln, near Leesburg, Virginia, and raised as a Quaker. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1965, received his M.A. from Hollins University (formerly Hollins College) in 1966. He went on to teach literature at American University from 1971–2003 and also co-directed the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing.

A lover of horses since childhood, Taylor won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his book, The Flying Change. The title, an equestrian term, suggests changes that people negotiate through life—a theme of some of the poems in the book.

Posted September 14, 2020