Horse Whisperer Notes

Notes on the Horse Whisperer

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Horse Whisperer
The narrator = horse whisperer
Poem begins by horse whisper describing his work with horses and the secrets of his trade, which
sound like magic but seem completely natural.
When the people who once used his skills turn against him, believing that he uses witchcraft, the
speaker decides to finally give up his trade, even though he had sworn to protect its secrets.
The speaker also chooses to use his powers against the owners of the horses, corrupting the
animals, before fleeing the country.
The poem creates a strong sense of the relationship between man and horse and the tensions
between superstition, religion and progress are explored.
Free verse
Content of poem is structured ­ illustrating the story of horse whisperer
The stanzas shorten in length through the poem, reducing by a line in each stanza until the
penultimate (second to last) verse
Two lines are then dropped in the final stanza ­ could represent the change in status of the horse
whisperer/ change to his happiness / a metaphor for the way in which rural trades and secrets are
"shouted" ­ sense of urgency as it is repeated twice in the first line
assonance ­ "searing breath" and "steady tread" ­ builds momentum and climax
Characteristics / Imagery
An outcast, who lives on the margin of society
He is misshapen ­ "sad tattoos", "shrunken scalp", "dyed brain"
Clown Punk dresses oddly and acts oddly
He is seen in the rough part of town ­ "driving home through the shonky side of town"
A shambolic (messed up) character
"sad tattoos" ­ wants reader to feel sympathy for the character ­ as this is how a person will look at
old age
Attitudes, Ideas and Themes
Clown is portrayed as a frightening but also a comic character ­ however poet warns the reader "don't
Negative emotions ­ A sense of darkness in human nature. Clown Punk is stuck in the state forever,
he cannot escape, evoking sympathy
The poet tries to make Punk seem less threatening as he describes the Punk as "daft mush" and
"like a basket of washing"
Poet tries to make us see the bright side of the clown ­ not someone who we would avoid or mock
identity, power, status, pride


Paul Dutton

Some useful notes on the poem, looking at context and language.

Riz Ahmad

Mixes up Clown punk and Horse Whisperer

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