Horse Whisperer- Andrew Forster
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Introduction to the poem

The poem, ‘Horse Whisperer’ is one of the earliest poems in the Fear of Thunder collection and dates back to around 1995 in its earliest form. In the poem, Forster describes the experience of a horse whisperer who is at first sought out and then hounded for his gifts.
After stumbling across a book on ‘strange phenomena’ while visiting a friend, Forster became fascinated by the techniques employed by whisperers and by the changing public perception of their skills. At the time, Forster was ‘exploring writing in different voices and this seemed like an interesting subject to explore’.
In the poem, Forster exploits his narrative skills to create the evocatively scented world of the horse whisperer whose skills fall foul of accusations of witchcraft and demonism. The visual qualities of his writing are revealed in his descriptions of the horse’s ‘shimmering muscles’ and ‘glistening veins’. The earliest drafts of the poem included a lot of ‘technical’ language, obscuring the meaning of the poem. This language was replaced with descriptions in subsequent drafts to enable the meaning to become clearer.
The voice in the poem is an individual voice but represents the experience of all horse whisperers. pentagon.jpg
The poem is written in free verse reflecting the different aspects of the narrative, with different tones for different periods. The elegiac tone of the last stanzas was a result of the same drafting process that saw the technical language replaced with something more accessible.

&Punctuation: Poets will use punctuation as they structure and write their poems. Some will use punctuation conventionally. Others will not. Others will use a mixture of both conventional and unconventional punctuation in their poems. Whichever is used, the use of punctuation will, along with word choices, be central to the poem’s messages, ideas and themes.
èCapitalisation: The use of capital letters for certain words.
èEnd-stopped lines: An end-stopped line is one in which a grammatical pause comes at the end of the line. It can be shown, for example, by the use of a comma, semicolon or full stop.
èEnjambment: or run-on lines. This is a line ending in which the syntax, rhythm and thought are continued into the next line without pausing or stopping. Run-on lines can also straddle verses – not just lines.
èMid-line full stops: The use of a full stop within a line. The grammatical pause causes a break in the syntax, rhythm or thought within the line.
èMid-line commas: The use of a comma or commas within a line. It can be used for listing, or for separating clauses.
Examiner’s Hint

  1. Some poets will capitalise the start of every line in their poem.
  2. Some poets will only capitalise the start of a line if it is also the start of a sentence.
  3. Some poets will capitalise the start of some (but not all) lineseven if it is not the start of a sentence. If this latter strategy is used, the poet is making a conscious decision to give special emphasis to a word.
&In ‘Horse Whisperer’ by Andrew Forster, the poet uses punctuation in a conventional, traditional manner.