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Once upon a Time There Was a Man

Once upon a time there was, there was a man
Who lived inside me wearing this cold armour,
The kind of knight of whom the ladies could be proud
And send with favours through unlikely forests
To fight infidels and other knights and ordinary dragons.
Once upon a time he galloped over deep green moats
On bridges princes had let down in friendship
And sat at board the honoured guest of kings
Talking like a man who knew the world by heart.
In every list he fought, the trumpets on the parapets,
The drums, declared his mastery, the art of arms;
His horse, the household word of every villager,
Was silver-shod and, some said, winged.
Once upon a time, expecting no adventure
In the forest everybody knows, at midnight,
He saw a mountain rise beneath the moon.
An incredible beast? With an eye of fire?
He silently dismounted, drew his famous sword
And hid behind the heavy tress and shrubs to see
If what he thought he saw was real. He fled
And the giant eye of the moon pursues him still.

—Mac Hammond

from The Horse Opera and Other Poems, 1992
Ohio State University Press

Copyright 1992 by Mac Hammond.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Ohio State University Press from The Horse Opera and Other Poems. Copyright 1992 by Mac Hammond. For further permissions information, contact Katka Hammond, Literary Executor, estate of Mac Hammond, mhammond@buffalo.edu.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Mac Hammond (1926-1997) was a poet, a professor emeritus of English, and the director of the graduate program in creative writing at the university of New York at Buffalo. Hammond is the author of four poetry collections, including Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems (Bellevue Press, 1989). Hammond died in 1997.

Learn more about Mac Hammond at Poetry Hunter.