When the park gates close and the sun goes down,
And the people rush to get out of town,
When the concerts start at the Albert Hall
(With the tourists missing the final call),
When the blackbirds roost and the squirrels sleep,
And the fishes sink to the murky deep,
When the fox sets off on his dustbin round –
There’s a flurry by the willow and a stomp on the ground.
Is there something there? You can hardly see.
Yes – a horse steps out from beneath the tree!
His flanks are black but his eye is bright,
And his nostrils twitch at the smells of the night.
He lifts his head and he shakes his mane,
And he’s glad to be free in the park again.
He sets off trotting down his favourite path,
And sniffs at the water in the old bird bath,
He walks by the lake and weaves through the trees,
And takes great delight in everything he sees;
A mouse scurries past and a bat flits by,
And the moon starts to rise in the darkened sky.
He visits the places he knows so well –
The little ruined church, the giant tree that fell,
And all of the statues that stand around the park,
Making mysterious shapes in the dark.
Some he likes best, and these, of course,
Are the various sculptures which feature a horse.
He greets them by touching his nose to theirs,
Bold with the stallions and coy with the mares.
Does he perceive they are nothing but stone,
And here in the park he is really alone?
But the horse is not sad, for he loves this place,
And gallops across the grass at a pace,
Leaping the benches, chasing the clouds –
Really enjoying the absence of crowds.
Oh yes, he still lives in the park in the day
(He’s trapped in this place in some mystical way),
But in the bright sunlight he’s harder to spot
(Some children can see him, but adults cannot).
So during the daytime he tends to lay low,
In a few secret places the people don’t know,
(Like deep in the bushes behind the old well,
Or up in the dip by… but no, I shan’t tell!)
He sleeps and he dreams that he’s back in the past,
Galloping onward, galloping fast,
A prince on his back, a battle at hand,
And various adventures all over the land.
But now he’s a phantom, a spirit of speed;
No rider controls this ethereal steed.
Black when it suits him but white in the snow,
Dancing with snowflakes in the moonlight glow,
Gold in the summer, pink roan in the spring,
And deep chestnut red when the swallows take wing.
Kicking with joy and rearing with pride,
Racing with only the wind at his side,
Sometimes invisible, sometimes a shade,
Not understanding of what he is made;
An echo of life, a thing of the dark –
A wild ghost stallion, at loose in Hyde Park!