Armitage’s „Horses, M62“ offers a description of a traffic scene with „a dozen or so“ cars involved in a collision“.
The meataphor horse-for-car works fine, adding an aspect of mystery to the poem, as it may take the reader a while to dissolve the imagery. The horse theme is established by using images and terms pertaining to the semantic field of horses and horseback riding such as, „arse and tail“, „riderless charge“, „horseshoe and hoof“, „traverse“, and „jumps the barricades“– just to name a few.
Simon Armitage’s allegorical horses contrast with Ted Hughes’ horses in his 1957 poem „The Horses“. In this second poem, the horses are literal horses (altough an interpretation of the horses as statues of horses is valid as well.) and the overall tone of the poem is very mystical, dream-like, and at times dramatic or even romantic.
While Armitage’s horse poem is purely descriptive the first person narrator effect in the poet laurates’s text adds to the excitement and profoundness of the second poem. A vareity of themes are dealt with in this poem, among others memory and the contrast between nature and urban life. Armitage’s poem, on the other hand, does not present any direct claim or statement, but only a scene of allegorical horses („chess-piece head“ – meatphor within the metaphor).
Although these poems may seem similar at first glance they are, in fact, very different. However, both poems play with the concept of seeing the something (ordinary) as if it were something else (different and mysterious).