Taffy Waits Poem by Kim Eitel

27/04/2013 at 3:12 pm

File: Taffy Waits Prologue and Poem by Kim Eitel permission given by author to be posted

Taffy Waits Painting Permission given to publish on website by Jennifer Marshall

Taffy Waits Painting Permission given to publish on website by Jennifer Marshall

As promised, the poem that was written to honor the painting by Jennifer Marshall and the horses who gave their lives in all the wars of the world.

By Kim Eitel

As soon as I saw it, I knew there was a story waiting to be told. I was looking through Jennifer Marshall’s amazing paintings on her Light Horse Art website, and the painting called ‘Taffy Waits’ caught my attention and took my breath away. In the background, a flurry of war is taking place, and amidst all the action, a tall, lean horse is looking down at a wounded soldier who is lying on the ground and reaching for the horse.

Jennifer’s first love was horses. She studied them and drew them from a very early age, developing her skills of observation, drawing, painting, and understanding which grew with having horses of her own.

Jennifer paints a variety of subjects from gold mining towns, landscapes and seascapes, to dogs, flowers, people, working horses and the Australian Light Horse.

In 2000, Jennifer married fellow artist Ron Marshall, who also has a passion and fascination for Australia’s history and country way of life, so they now share the luxury of being able to paint together as a husband and wife team. They reside in the ‘Rose and Rodeo Capital of Queensland’, the lovely historic, country town of Warwick, where they have set up their studio, and become involved with the local art community.

I contacted Jennifer who explained more about the painting, ’Taffy Waits’. “My painting was inspired by a story about the close bond between the Australian Light Horsemen and their Walers. Corporal Austin Edwards was seriously wounded at the Battle of Romani. His horse, Taffy, stood still for his wounded rider to remount and escape, despite being in a terrifying battlefield. Loyalty to his rider overrode his instincts to flee from the surrounding danger, and he waited.”

I wanted to know more. What was the horse’s life like before he was shipped off to war? What happened to him afterwards? Unfortunately, those questions may never be answered as so much information from that era has vanished in the mists of time, but inspired by the painting, my imagination flared up and I wrote the poem below, also called ‘Taffy Waits’.

It does not claim to be historically accurate beyond the relationship between Corporal Edwards and Taffy. The boy at the beginning is purely fictional and the demise of the horse is unknown. However, the story could well be true for many of the horses that were sent to war.

Each year on Anzac Day, as you bow your heads for those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, please remember the horses and their sacrifices too.

The Poem – Taffy Waits by Kim Eitel

By the gumtree in the paddock, Taffy stands,

A handsome chestnut gelding, fifteenhands,

He hears his owner calling

so he stands beside the gates

for his boy to take him riding, Taffy waits.

 

The Remount Section’s looking. Taffy’s sold,

He’s strong and fit with coat and heart of gold.

He’s led aboard a steam ship,

Taffy’s tense but braves the fates,

Across the sea he travels, Taffy waits.

 

His rider’s Corporal Edwards, Taffy’s friend,

They form a special bond no war can end,

Each day brings blood and battle,

lack of food emaciates,

but at night he rests by starlight. Taffy waits.

 

Through explosions, bullets, shrapnel, Taffy strides,

hears Edwards curse the Turkish as he rides

Then a scream, and Edwards falling

as a bomb shell detonates,

by his wounded rider’s body, Taff waits.

 

Edwards reaches out a hand and Taffy neighs.

His instincts spur to flee this blood-filled blaze.

But he’s loyal to his partner;

nearby fighting escalates,

but he won’t desert his rider. Taffy waits.

 

His muscles twitch with fear then Taffy sees

his master rising slowly to his knees.

Despite the crack of gunfire,

in the smoke-filled hell he hates,

grenades go whizzing past but Taffy waits.

 

He hears the war has ended. Taffy sigts.

But ‘home’ is not an option. Edwards cries.

Each man must shoot his mount now,

and in spite of mass debates,

for a single silver bullet, Taffy waits.

 

In the peaceful grass in Heaven, Taffy rests.

Three hundred thousand horses, other guests.

But he’s waiting for two people

as he stands by pearly gates.

For his boy and Corporal Edwards, Taffy waits.

 

With thanks again to Carolyn