Please consider joining us for Irish Short Stories Week Year Two March 12 to March 22
|Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath|
Edward -Ted-Hughes (1930 to 1998-UK) was the poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1884 until his death in 1998. He is perhaps most known now as the husband of Sylvia Plath. He wrote mostly poems and children's books but he also wrote some short stories, among them "Rain Horse".
I recently acquired a Kindle edition of The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories edited and with a very good introduction by Malcolm Bradbury. I was very happy to see that a short story by Ted Hughes, a new to me writer, was included in the collection. (My page lengths on Kindle edition books are just an estimate, they can go up and down depending on the print size you select.)
As the story opens a man, the only person in the story, is walking down a country road. He is returning to a farm he left twelve years ago. Suddenly a horse seems to be watching him, almost stalking him. The horse seems to be intently looking at him. To compress a bit, the horse begins to behave to him in a threatening fashion.
He tries to evade the horse but he follows him down the road, acting in an increasingly threatening way. It begins to rain and he seek shelter. The horse somehow seems personally intent on harming him. He begins to fear the horse may be mad. He picks up some rocks and throws them at the horse, hitting him several times but the horse only retreats a bit. He then begins to throw even more rocks at the horse but cannot hit him.
As the story ends and he reaches the horse barn where he spent time twelve years ago he begins to wonder if any of this really happened.
"Rain Horse" was, as one would expect, a beautifully written story. It leaves us to ponder what the symbolic meaning of the horse might be.
I am glad I read this story.