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Letters: Horse-Mating in Literature


Last week, we spoke with Aryn Kyle, author of "The God of Animals," a novel that has a particularly vivid horse-mating scene.

(Soundbite of NPR broadcast)

SIMON: This novel contains one of the - when I say one of, it's not like I've read a lot of horse-mating scenes, but let's just say I don't think I've read another novel with a real horse-mating scene. Let's just say yours is undoubtedly the most unexpected and funniest I've ever heard.

Ms. ARYN KYLE (Author, "The God of Animals"): Excellent. Of all of the horse-mating scenes...

SIMON: Oh, yes.

Ms. KYLE: ...in great literature.

SIMON: You know, Dostoyevsky did so little with horse-mating scenes.

Ms. KYLE: I know. It's very underused, I think.

SIMON: And even the bard never, you know, there's not a great Shakespearean horse-mating to my knowledge. We'll hear from someone who says I'm missing a sonnet, but in any event.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Well, we heard from several listeners who noted Shakespeare's amorous equine moments.

Methayo Pengalo(ph) from Salem, Massachusetts, wrote: Mr. Simon is partially correct but it is not in the sonnets; rather in Shakespeare's ostensibly very first poem "Venus and Adonis" there's a celebrated scene of horse passion. The stanzas in question relate how when Adonis tries to depart from the overly affectionate Venus, his horse runs away from him in order to sow his oats with an attractive mare passing by.

It goes, Away he springs and hasteth to his horse, but, lo, from forth a copse that neighbors by. A breeding jennet, lusty, young and proud, Adonis' trampling courser doth espy. And forth she rushes, snorts and neighs aloud. The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree, breaketh his rein and to her straight goes he.

Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds, and now his woven girths he breaks asunder. The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds, whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder. The iron bit he crusheth 'tween his teeth, controlling what he was controlled with.

His ears up-prick'd, his braided hanging mane upon his compass'd crest now stand on end. His nostrils drink the air, and forth again, as from a furnace, vapours doth he send. His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire, shows his hot courage and his high desire.

Several listeners also pointed to a more recent equine coupling. Rob Ziggler(ph) from Richmond, Virginia, says: Actually, in Tom Wolfe's dreadful 1998 novel, "A Man in Full," an entire chapter is devoted to the subject. It's probably the only chapter worth reading. We pass on a post-coital excerpt.

He was finished, utterly spent. Despite his enormous size, he suddenly looked powerless. His head drooped. His gait was that of an old male. As the stable hand led him away, he didn't so much as glance back at the mare. Not once. Not a nod, a twitch, not so much as a sigh, or a sentimental snort for the creature who just, moments before, had obsessed every neuron of his central nervous system.

We welcome your comments. Just come to our Web site, npr.org, and click on Contact Us. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.