On January 31st 2014 we enter the Chinese year of the Horse. The horse is an auspicious sign for all of us but for me especially. I grew up with ponies and horses and have always felt happiest with horses nearby. Although I love living in Amsterdam, more contact with the natural world and in particular with horses is something I yearn for.
This year, the theatre production, War Horse is finally coming to Amsterdam! Firstly, the original English production will be simulcast at Tuschinski on 27th Feb and then for the Holland Festival the Dutch production will run throughout the summer at Carré. I’ve got my tickets already for both events! I saw the production in London and it was the most moving piece of theatre I have ever seen. It’s amazing how quickly one suspends disbelief and the puppets become real horses, living and breathing on stage. Visceral in its immediacy, emotional without being sentimental and especially poignant this year during the commemoration of 100 years since the outbreak of World War I.
To celebrate wonderful equine friends and family, I want to share a favourite poem with you. It conjures up cosy evenings spent with my family in the seventies, watching the Horse of the Year Show. Each year during the closing ceremony, a horse would stride out into the spotlight of Wembley arena, stand still and the audience would hush. The mellifluous tones of the late, great Dorian Williams would recite this ode by Ronald Duncan,
Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity?
Here where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined.
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent;
there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
England’s past has been borne on his back.
All our history is in his industry.
We are his heirs;
He is our inheritance.
© the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation