“She Had Some Horses” by Joy Harjo is the topic of this essay. It also shows what frequent themes are found in the poet’s other songs. Harjo is currently on staff in the English Department at the University of Arizona (Velie 287). Harjo, a talented creative force, has published 12 volumes of poetry and two children’s books (Velie 287).
She is an accomplished musician, saxophonist, dancer, painter, screenwriter, and feminist (Scarry 1). Harjo is of Cherokee descent and studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma (Scarry 1)
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Harjo’s roots are based in the Indian boarding school she attended in 1967, which nurtured her creative tendencies. Harjo also remembers attending Galway Kinnell’s reading, which was the first poetry performance she ever saw, as a pivotal moment when literature appeared both viable and correct as a profession while she was a budding poet (Scarry 1).
Harjo is best known as a poet, and her frequent use of animals in her poetry, particularly the horse, is well-known. She Had Some Horses: A Collection of Native American Poems was published by Thunder’s Mouth Press in 1983, Harjo’s most successful collection of poems to date. This paper examines Harjo’s use of animal imagery and its thematic relevance in her most powerful verses.
The horse, for Harjo, symbolizes her dualistic perspective on human existence, which is both urban and natural. The classic illustration of “psychic dualism” in Harjo’s She Had Some Horses (Scarry 1) occurs in the poem’s title pieces. In his analysis of “She Had Some Horses,” critic Dan Bellm characterized the piece as “a long litany of the ‘horses’ within a woman who is attempting to become whole” (Scarry 1). However, the poem goes beyond physical appearance to encompass a more holistic view of humanity.
In this poem, J.Harjo personifies a series of horses that are engaged in quite urban and social activities in her rendering of the basic dualism of human nature. That’s what “She Had Some Horses” is about. The lyrics speak of “horses who cried in their beer,” a frightening image of addiction, as well as “horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet in stalls of their own making.”
Some additional observations regarding the structural elements of this poem: Her dualistic themes of liberty and captivity are manifested throughout. “Horses who spit at male queens who made them afraid of themselves,” as well as “horses who called themselves, “spirit” and kept their voices secret and to themselves,” are seen in this poem (Harjo 6).
Here, the reader is exposed to the urban experience of hatred, racism, and homophobia, as well as the spiritual aspect of humans’ desire to aspire to greater heights while trapped in bigotry, conformity, and separation. Harjo’s fantastic metaphor usage erupts in such passages as “She had horses who got down on their knees for any savior.”
“The poem’s phrase is as daunting as it is lovely, which reflects Harjo’s overall point – no one is perfect, and we are all a work in progress. In the poem Night Out, Harjo’s horses appear frequently. “I’ve seen you in the palms of my hands, late nights in the bar, just before the lights are about to be turned on. You’re a powerful lot by then; you’re not those wrinkled sacks of thin mewing spirits that lie around the bar early in the day, waiting for thoughts and bellies” (Velie 287).
Let us now examine another poem by Joy Harjo. In Night Out, we see Harjo’s dualism once again, this time through the liberating effect of intoxication. The men and women of the bar start as “wrinkled sacks of thin, mewing spirit,” but they return to their natural condition – that of horses – after getting wasted, when they become “powerful horses” (Velie 287). It is probably Harjo’s favorite poetic motif because it compares people to animals in their natural state easily regaining their composure.
In Night Out, Harjo depicts addiction as a means to regain lost power, albeit briefly – “Your voice rang out from somewhere in the darkness, another shot, anything to celebrate this deadly thing called living” (Velie 287). Harjo’s poem, on the other hand, is an honest assessment of the attractiveness of alcohol and other addictive substances for those who live in urban settings because they provide a route back to self-esteem and liberty.
In addition, the use of horse imagery in the poem What I Should Have Said combines with Harjo’s subject of escape – escape back to Native American liberty and also to mental “safe” fantasies intended to make city life manageable.
The lines in What I Should Have Said that best illustrate this concept are “We are horses knocked out with tranquilizers, sucked into a deep, deep sleeping for the comfort and anesthesia death. We are caught between clouds and wet earth, and there is no movement either way” (Velie 288). In Harjo’s poem What I Should Have Said, the horse is seen as a creature that exists in two realms at once.
Poetry by Poetess Po’oh Joy Harjo also makes use of the horse as a metonymy for the creative process. Harjo’s poem Explosion from her 1983 collection She Had Some Horses is perhaps the most obvious illustration of this usage of the horse. “But maybe it was horses detonating in Okemah’s insane ground, exploding.”
They were a rough birth, flapping from the earth into trees to wait for night terrors to arrive: then they traveled west across Oklahoma’s parched fields, then their umbilical cords bound together in the molten core. In Explosion, the horse serves as a metaphor for not only creating but also for the process of inception. Joy Harjo effectively employs the motif of the horse as a living channel between urban and natural environments.
Harjo’s poems explore intricate interior worlds that reflect the visible world while also revealing its faults and ugliness. Joy Harjo’s poetic skill has placed her firmly among Native American writers at the top of the tree. Her work offers a “very personal vision of reality, with images from her own culture illuminating the broader American landscape,” according to Scarry (1).
Harjo’s poems touch on some of the most sensitive themes in Native American literature, including addiction, pain, bereavement, and the impact of these issues on indigenous culture. Her work, however, is so exceptional that it rises above social justice poetry to communicate the universal human condition.
Marjo’s frequent use of the horse to “navigate fluidly between themes of past and present—in historical and even prehistorical terms—as well as personify urban conflict through its dualistic nature,” adds depth to her art and reaches a broader audience, expanding her work.
Native Americans consider there to be mystical places where the notion of comprehension is brilliant. The atmosphere in and around the Black Hills, for example, or the rock of Bear Lodge is thought to be holy by other people. Such locations are popular since they give better platforms for contacting spirits and ancestors. In her poem “She had some horses,” the poet similarly does not focus on the physical dimensions of her rooms.
Harjo’s versatility is evident in the way she uses her sensitivity and elements beyond imagination to describe what exists in her unique environments. Harjo also metaphorically equates the difficulties of the female speaker in her poem to those of a horse, while simultaneously attempting to reconcile opposing ideas. She unifies the poem by repeating the words “she had some horses” across every stanza, as well as providing emotional impact to its theme.
Readers can identify with her style of writing when they learn that the paradoxical images and occurrences in the speaker’s life provide a clear definition of her psychological, cultural, and spiritual conflicts. The writer achieves psychological satisfaction and comprehends her mission in life towards the conclusion of the sonnet. Clearly, people’s capacity to perceive their environment aids them in achieving self-discovery and understanding of individual purpose in life.
Every single person goes through events in their life that have a significant influence on them. Personal encounters have the power to mold people and leave a long-lasting impression on who they become. I’ve had several pivotal moments throughout my life that I’m certain made a tremendous impact on who I am today, how I cope with my past, and what I will do with the future.
I was caught up in Sherman Alexie’s “She Had Some Horses,” especially with respect to passion, perplexity, and humility. The tale of Alexie helped me to feel at ease by assuring me that I wasn’t alone in my suffering. After all, Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who once said, “Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated” (Taylor).
At times, everyone needs a “get away” from their own reality. Alexie’s account of his family being alcoholics provoked strong reactions in me. He continues, “Like many kids in that scenario, I grew to withdraw into myself” (Alexie 42). Every family has its own problems that they are forced to endure behind closed doors.
My point is to emphasize the significance of validation and comprehension. Reading someone else’s tale about similar feelings you’ve had allows you to feel validated. I empathize with Alexie; I understand how he felt in his circumstances, from sadness to humility, from frustration to joy. Knowing that someone understands what you’re going through makes us more honest with ourselves, according to on my opinion.
Nobody wants to be alone when dealing with their emotions, which is why it’s important to have support. It’s also worth noting the significance of these feelings already discussed. Passion is what can help us recover and propel us toward safety. Confusion might be tough, but it can result in a better end result. The basic quality of humility may keep a person-centered.