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The Soul Travels on Horseback

Books & Poetry

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In this week’s poem, Mimi Khalvati explores the saying “the soul travels on horseback”, and the idea that we often travel too far and too fast for our soul to catch up – especially in this jet age.

The Soul Travels on Horseback

and the road is beset with obstacles and thorns.
But let it take its time, for I have hours and hours to wait

here, snowbound in Lisbon, glad of this sunlit café
outside Departures, for an evening flight to Heathrow.

Being my soul’s steed, I should like to know its name
and breed – a Marwari of India, Barb of North Africa,

the Akhal-Teke of Western Asia or a Turkoman,
now extinct?  Is it the burnt chestnut colour of the ant,

grey as a Bedouin wind, the four winds that made it?
O Drinker of the Wind, I travel by air, sea, land

and wherever I am, there you are behind my back
pounding the cloud streets, trailing banners of cirrus

or as Platero once did, from fear or chill, hoofing a stream,
breaking the moon into a swarm of clear, crystal roses.

No, no matter your thirst, ride swiftly, mare, stallion,
mother, father, for without you I feel forever homesick.

Mimi Khalvati was born in Tehran and grew up in England. She now lives in London and has published eight collections of poetry with Carcanet Press, including “The Meanest Flower”, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, and “Child: New and Selected Poems 1991-2011”, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. She is the founder of The Poetry School, where she teaches. Her UK awards include a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors, and an Arts Council Writer’s Award. Mimi is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of The English Society. Her most recent collection, “The Weather Wheel”, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems up to 30 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.



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