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Of the Thunder of Hooves, a Poem

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded "Poet of the Year 2014" Hubby Awards and has had two poems become songs.


Of the Thunder of Hooves

Ominous storm clouds gather and swirl,

Changing form like a gathering of eerie shape-shifters.

As I stare at the turbulent late afternoon sky in awe

They transform into a dozen black stallions.

Their ghostly riders pulling the reins

In a hesitant and temporary restraint,

Until the time is right

And the angry steeds can be released

To wreak their havoc.

More and more dark horses join the herd,

Bucking and snorting as they move slowly closer.


Lightning flashes in the distance,

And I recall "the Charge of the Light Brigade"

At the Battle of Balaclava,

And the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Suddenly, the spectres release the reins

As there is a loud CRASH!

And the sound of the thunder of hooves can be heard

Galloping fearlessly across the sky.

Thunder claps, lightning strikes, and rain buckets down

In this cumulonimbus assault from the heavens.


Is this a sign from an angry God

Disappointed with his creation,

Or just his wish to demonstrate

A small sample of his awesome power?

Fierce winds howl and rage,

Trees are snapped, houses unroofed, power supply lost.

But in the blink of an eye,

Almost over before it starts.

The sky lightens, as the ghostly horses gallop away,

Disappearing back to their heavenly stables.

Off the Shelf

I strayed away from my "Off the Shelf" series with my last poem, but here I am returning to a form of inspiration that's been working so well for me.

Of the Thunder of Hooves by Ian H Sabey is actually a rewrite of a story called "Mountain Rogue" which the author wrote in the winter of 1943 when he was a prisoner in a concentration camp in Germany during WWII. (I couldn't find the book on Amazon, but it is available at the above link through Biblio.com.au)

Prior to enlisting as a gunner in the A.I.F. Ian Sabey had been an Adelaide journalist. In addition to establishing a British P.O.W. paper, he taught journalism to 35 fellow prisoners.

In the author's words, "the work was done entirely away from ordinary surroundings under almost impossible conditions, and for the smallest circulation in the world - a Digger from Queensland suffering from nephritis, who had lost interest in this world and seemed booked for another."

Of the Thunder of Hooves is the story of an Australian wild horse, or in fact, many horses which have thundered down valleys and across streams, finally to appear on racecourses for what they call "The Sport of Kings."

Ian H Sabey's story is such an interesting one that I could probably have written a whole article about his life, and I may do so at a later date. But hopefully, this snippet gives you some insight.

Of the Thunder of Hooves by Ian H Sabey

Of the Thunder of Hooves by Ian H Sabey

© 2018 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on December 15, 2019:

Thanks Stive, Yes, that would be the perfect time to sit and read it.

Stive Smyth from Philippines on December 15, 2019:

I liked this poem. It will be a good read also in the midst of the next typhoon perhaps.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on December 09, 2019:

Than you Nell, glad you enjoyed the poem and bit of history I implied out the author Ian H Sabey. I was also intrigued by his story and had intended to write more about him, unfortunately apart from what is written in the forward of this book I can’t find anything.

Nell Rose from England on December 09, 2019:

Lovely poem John, and how amazing that man writing while a prisoner in WW2. I may just read it. Thank you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 11, 2018:

Thank you, Lawrence. Your comment is much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed it.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 11, 2018:


The images here are so vivid. Really enjoyed this.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 09, 2018:

Hi again, Tim. I am so pleased you enjoyed this work. It means a lot when a writer of your caliber praises one’s humble piece of writing. Much respect for you also.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 09, 2018:

Hi, John,

Loved this poem. It reminded me of watching the wild herd on Corolla Beach here although not as spectacular as your work.

This was wonderful and I loved the way you tied in a classic poem, too.

Enjoyed it immensely.

Much respect,


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2018:

Thank you for reading another of my poems Devika. Take care.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 04, 2018:

A great imagination you have with this poem. Reminds of when we storms in Croatia. It can get destructive.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 23, 2018:

Flourish, I am fortunate to live in a part of the world that gets very few tornados, and those that Australia does get usually occur in the unpopulated areas. I hope you and your family remain safe and little damage is done during the current sequence. Thanks for reading and commenting here.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 23, 2018:

This was a powerful poem and reminded me a lot of the destructiveness of tornadoes. My area has had a large number of them in the past week.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 20, 2018:

Thank you for reading this poem, Beth. I am happy that you good feel the atmosphere and found the snippet n Ian H Sabey interesting.

Beth Perry from Tennesee on September 20, 2018:

Love this poem; made me feel like I was right there in the middle of the storm, hearing the stallions and feeling the thunder crash around me! And the info about Mr. Sabey very interesting.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 19, 2018:

Thank you, Rinita :)

Rinita Sen on September 19, 2018:

Dana, thank you for asking about John's books. I would love to get my hands on them as well. I'll let you know when I do, John.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 18, 2018:

Dana, thank you again for showing interest in my work. I hope you enjoy whichever book you intend to order.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on September 18, 2018:

Okay, I'm going to order it and let you know what I think. I agree that you have grown tremendously as a writer/poet. Looking forward to reading your work.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 18, 2018:

Hi Dana,

Thanks for asking. I have an eBook called "I Laughed a Smile" available on Lulu.com

which is really a collection of my earliest poetry here at HubPages. I think my writing has improved a lot since.

I published a paperback anthology via The Creative Exiles website I belong to in which I have 13 of my poems along with those of other poets. It has poetry of mine you would not have read before and is available on Amazon. The book is called The Creative Exiles "Let the Words Speak."

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on September 18, 2018:

I remember you wrote a book of poetry. Can I have the website again?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 17, 2018:

I too am enthralled by watching storms develop, Shannon. I have never been in a tornado though and it would surely be different. Thanks for sharing that, and yes I will try free verse more often.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 17, 2018:

Thanks you for reading and enjoying this Kyokusiima. Your comment is much appreciated.

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 17, 2018:

This reminds me of the time I watched a storm literally roll in from the top of my friend's roof. We knew we needed to get down, but we were awestruck for a few minutes watching the angry clouds tumble over one another. Probably a good thing we snapped out of it, though, because the tornado sirens sounded. LOL

I suppose the sky is the race track for those wild galloping ghosts. I enjoyed this. You should try free verse more often.

Kyokusiima Diana from Kampala-Uganda on September 17, 2018:

Superb and great. Such a powerful imagination. Thanks for writing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 17, 2018:

Yes, it is Shauna...free verse. I usually rhyme but felt like being different. Glad you enjoyed this.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 17, 2018:

John, this is a different style of poetry for you. Mother Nature is a powerful force. Indeed, sometimes it sounds as if a herd of horses are disturbing the skies to wreak havoc on Earth.

Nice job!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 17, 2018:

Paula, thank you so much for those kind words. Ok, I think you have convinced me to research Ian Sabey's life more and write about him. Thanks for the encouragement.

Suzie from Carson City on September 17, 2018:

Jodah....You are a Master of Poetry, always exciting, creating inspiration. I hear the thunder as imagery of magnificent horses take my breath away. You have decorated Sabey's "Mountain Rogue," with the blessing of your talent. I encourage you to write of his life and look forward to such a work of art. Peace, Paula

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 16, 2018:

Thank you for the generous comment, Dana. This was one of my few free-verse poems, I guess I should write them more often.

As for the elfin children, I have never continued the series further, unfortunately. I was considering making it into a children's book series but was told it was too much like some other author's story so I sort of lost interest. I may be inspired to continue it in future, we shall see. Sorry to disappoint your young cousins.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 16, 2018:

Mark, glad you could feel the thundering hooves in that coffee shop lol. Thank you for reading and commenting as always.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on September 16, 2018:

Very creative John, no words could explain how impressed I am with how you weave words together by looking at pictures. A true creative. And, I would say this is definitely one of your best, in my book at least anyway.

By the way whatever happened to the little elfin kid's? Did they ever venture into the outside world? For the longest time my little cousins were waiting for the continuation but unfortunately, those little boys are a lot older now.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 16, 2018:

Thank you, Linda. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes it’s much more wonderful to hear or read the words and form your own vision in your mind. Much appreciated.

Mark Tulin from Palm Springs, California on September 16, 2018:

John, I felt those thundering hooves even in a laid-back coffee shop in Sana Barbara while several men were blacktopping a parking lot across the way. Powerful poem.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 16, 2018:

John, masterfully written. The words were so well chosen no illustrations were needed.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 16, 2018:

Yes, I guess the publishing of this poem was unintentionally timely, with typhoon Florence on the warpath, Genna. Thank you for the very generous comment.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on September 16, 2018:

The image of Florence came immediately to mind with the title and opening photo John, and the very first lines of this powerful poem. I just loved this! On the Thunder of Hooves is some of your best work.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 16, 2018:

Thank you, Londa. I try to find photos to suit as best I can.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 15, 2018:

I love your imagination and the idea of of wild horses in the storm. Your poem matches the photos beautifully, John.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Thanks a lot, Clive. A play, you say?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Hi Mike. Thank you for that kind comment. I am going to do more research into Ian H Sabey and possibly write an article about it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Thank you, Bill, I really appreciate that comment a lot coming from a writer of your calibre.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on September 15, 2018:

Quite and imaginative piece. Could fit well in a short play.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on September 15, 2018:

Hello John - Quite the rousing piece of writing. The backstory pales in comparison. Being a prisoner of war was no picnic.

The imagery of your poetry was compelling.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Sean glad the imagery created by my words could be seen clearly in your mind glad you enjoyed both the poem and the pictures. Take care brother.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Hey, Eric. The book by Ian Sabey was probably partly inspired by Man From Snowy River poem/story, and it is a wonderful tale. Glad you enjoyed reading this poem.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on September 15, 2018:

A fantastic and powerful poem which created amazing images in my mind! Thank you, my dear brother!

Excellent choice of pictures too!



Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 15, 2018:

Fantastic. Reminded me of the four horsemen and "The Man From Snowy River" One of my top ten movies. Thanks a bunch for this.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Mary, I also love to watch a storm build up as it approaches. As long as it doesn't turn violent and destructive like the one I describe.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Manatita, thank you for that positive and encouraging comment. Yes, Ian H Sabey's story certainly is an interesting one.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Thank you for the wonderful comment, Ann. I guess this poem is quite timely with the hurricane hitting Carolina and another the Philippines.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 15, 2018:

Truly a wonderful metaphor, my friend. Loved the storm/stallion comparison. Beautifully written!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 15, 2018:

Li-Jen, I am glad to hear that comparing thunder to the horses' hooves has made it more exciting. Thank you for sharing the things you liked about the poem as well. I enjoy it when people read my work closely.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 15, 2018:

Jodah, many times as a child, I have witnessed this. My husband likes to put a chair in the boat house to witness the coming of a storm. Nothing like the one you describe though and nothing like the ones I witnessed as a child when roofs go off and hooves bring destruction to many lives.

manatita44 from london on September 15, 2018:

The story of Ian H Sabey is interesting. I perceived the poem in a different way, as I thought it tied in well with the recent hurricane difficulties, the second half merging so well with the theme so exquisitely developed in the first half. Powerful poem!

Ann Carr from SW England on September 15, 2018:

This is a brilliant poem, John! I love the imagery - of your words and as well as the illustrations. Your word-crafting here is of the highest standard. You describe the build-up, the storm and the aftermath so vividly and the rhythm is perfect. It also reminded me of the images I saw on the television this morning, of the hurricane in North and South Carolina; terrifying and destructive.

An interesting background to this poem, John. As you say, worth an article in itself.



Li-Jen Hew on September 15, 2018:

Hey Jodah, now that you mentioned the thunder of hooves, thunder is more exciting haha. The rhythm "Thunder claps, lightning strikes, and rain buckets down" mimics the gallops of horses. I like how you added some realities like power outage and show that the horses have to return to their heavenly stables. I like your humour when you said you recall "the Charge of the Light Brigade" and how you divided your poem into the phases of a storm..from how the horses gathered to form bigger dark clouds, the lighting flashes to the end, the sky lightens. Thanks for sharing. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 14, 2018:

Hi Rinita, thank you for being the first to read this, and also for your generous comment. I knew I had seen images like this before but it was a matter of finding the right ones, yes. I'm glad was able to capture a feeling of exhilaration and fear.

Rinita Sen on September 14, 2018:

This is surreal imagery, John. I think it might have been hard to find the right pictures, too. The shape of the clouds transforming to horses was exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Loved this. You, are the master!

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