MAY 2009


Large Horse by Raymond Duchamp-VillonRaymond Duchamp-Villon
Le Grand Cheval (Large Horse) 1914, cast 1961
100.0 x 98.7 x 66.0 cm 

Katrina Porteous presents her poem, 'Engine of History', based on Raymond Duchamp-Villon's Large Horse. This work is currently on display in Tate Modern, on Level 5: States of Flux, in Room 2, (Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism).
Visit the Tate Collection online.

       Engine of History
Silence. And from it, twist
Shoulder, flank,
       Heart-beat and steady
Hoof-plod; and the coulter
       Parts the clay, its fragrance
Winding downriver.
       Hot horse lather.
Quarters, croup, hock
       Thrust up; the straight
Cannon plunge, a piston
       Pounding, its contradiction
The bend, break, flex
       Of water’s curve and cusp,
That beautiful, blind striving.
       Beat, heart, and arch
Crest; shoulder
       Bow till the living spine
Uncoils; its engine –
       Cog, chain-link, track-plate –
Parting the clay, the river
       Dragging its stink –
Sweat, dung, machine-oil, corpses –
       Onwards – relentless,
Unswerving – into silence.

KATRINA PORTEOUS is a poet and historian, based on the Northumberland coast. She has been Writer-in-Residence in the Shetland Islands and at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and has written many long poems for BBC Radio. Her publications include The Lost Music, The Wund an’ the Wetter, The Bonny Fisher Lad, Dunstanburgh, Longshore Drift and The Blue Lonnen.

Katrina appeared at the Sutton Hoo Poetry Festival in May 2009 at the famous Anglo-Saxon burial site in Suffolk, as part of the Poetry Society’s Stanza events in their centenary year. For further information about other Stanza events happening across the country, please visit