Adam Lindsay Gordon.

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RACING RHTMES



RACING RHYMES
OTHER VERSES



BY ADAM LINDSAY GORDON

SELECTED AND ARRANGED
BY T. O. GUEN




NEW YORK R H RUSSELL
PUBLISHER - M C M I



Copyright, IQOi, by
ROBERT HOWARD RUSSELL



UNIVERSITY PRESS . JOHN WILSON
AND SON . CAMBRIDGE . U. S. A.



Stack
Annex





ffitmavixm

(A. L. GORDON)

A rest ! Hard by the margin of that sea
Whose sounds are mingled with his noble
verse,

Now lies the shell that never more will house
The fine, strong spirit of my gifted friend.
Yea, he who flashed upon us suddenly,
A shining soul with syllables of fire,
Who sang the first great songs these lands can

claim

To be their own ; the one who did not seem
To know what royal place awaited him
Within the Temple of the Beautiful,
Has passed away ; and we who knew him, sit
Aghast in darkness, dumb with that great grief,
W T hose stature yet we cannot comprehend :
While over yonder churchyard, hearsed with pines,
The night-wind sings its immemorial hymn,
And sobs above a newly-covered grave.
1



In Memoriam

The bard, the scholar, and the man who lived

That frank, that open-hearted life which keeps

The splendid fire of English chivalry

From dying out ; the one who never wronged

A fellow-man ; the faithful friend who judged

The many, anxious to be loved of him,

By what he saw, and not by what he heard,

As lesser spirits do ; the brave great soul

That never told a lie, or turned aside

To fly from danger ; he, I say, was one

Of that bright company this sin-stained world

Can ill afford to lose.

They did not know,

The hundreds who had read his sturdy verse,
And revelled over ringing major notes,
The mournful meaning of the undersong
Which runs through all he wrote, and often takes
The deep autumnal, half-prophetic tone
Of forest winds in March ; nor did they think
That on that healthy-hearted man there lay
The wild specific curse which seems to cling
For ever to the Poet's twofold life !

To Adam Lindsay Gordon, I who laid
Two years ago on Lionel Michael's grave
8



In Memoriam

A tender leaf of my regard ; yea I,

Who culled a garland from the flowers of song

To place where Harpur sleeps ; I, left alone,

The sad disciple of a shining band

Now gone ! to Adam Lindsay Gordon's name

I dedicate these lines ; and if 't is true

That past the darkness of the grave, the soul

Becomes omniscient, then the bard may stoop

From his high seat to take the offering,

And read it with a sigh for human friends,

In human bonds, and grey with human griefs.

And having wove and proffered this poor wreath,

I stand to-day as lone as he who saw

At nightfall, through the glimmering moony mists,

The last of Arthur on the wailing mere,

And strained in vain to hear the going voice.

HENRY KENDALL.



" Question not, but live and labour

Till yon goal be won,
Helping every feeble neighbour,

Seeking help from none ;
Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another's trouble,

Courage in your own.

" Courage, comrades, this is certain,

All is for the best
There are lights behind the curtain

Gentles, let us rest.
As the smoke- rack veers to seaward,

From ' the ancient clay,'
With its moral drifting leeward,

Ends the wanderer's lay."



ii




Hi/



C NT E NTS



How WE BEAT THE FAVOURITE .

THE ROLL OF THE KETTLEDRUM; OR,
THE LAY OF THE LAST CHARGER .

THE RACE

WOLF AND HOUND

THE SICK STOCKRIDER

BANKER'S DREAM

THE FIELDS OF COLERAINE

A HUNTING SONG

BY FLOOD AND FIELD

IN UTRUMQUE PARATUS

LEX TALIONIS

FINIS EXOPTATUS

Cui BONO

WORMWOOD AND NIGHTSHADE

ARS LONGA

DAWN

CONFITEOR

QUARE FATIGASTI

13




PAGE
15

22

37
45
5
56
63
66
70

75
81
86
90
93
99
99
100

102



Contents

PAGE

THE SWIMMER 105

No NAME 106

THICK-HEADED THOUGHTS . 109

THE THREE FRIENDS no

FROM THE WRECK 115

THE ROMANCE OF BRITOMARTE 122

To MY SISTER 136

DE TE 141

THE RHYME OF JOYOUS GARDE 146

GONE 146





RACING RHYMES

AND OTHER VERSES



HOW WE BEAT THE FAVOURITE

A LAY OF THE LOAMSHIRE HUNT CUP



A



YE, squire," said Stevens, " they back him

at evens;
The race is all over, bar shouting, they

say;

The Clown ought to beat her ; Dick Neville is sweeter
Than ever he swears he can win all the way.



Racing Rhymes

" A gentleman rider well, I 'm an outsider,
But if he 's a gent who the mischief's a jock?

You swells mostly blunder, Dick rides for the plunder,
He rides, too, like thunder he sits like a rock.

" He calls * hunted fairly ' a horse that has barely
Been stripp'd for a trot within sight of the hounds,

A horse that at Warwick beat Birdlime and Yorick,
And gave Abdelkader at Aintree nine pounds.

" They say we have no test to warrant a protest ;

Dick rides for a lord and stands in with a steward ;
The light of their faces they show him his case is

Prejudged and his verdict already secured.

" But none can outlast her, and few travel faster,
She strides in her work clean away from The Drag ;

You hold her and sit her, she could n't be fitter,
Whenever you hit her she '11 spring like a stag.

"And p'rhaps the green jacket, at odds though

they back it,

May fall, or there 's no knowing what may turn up.
The mare is quite ready, sit still and ride steady,
Keep cool; and I think you may just win the
cup."

16



How We Beat the Favourite

Dark-brown with tan muzzle, just stripped for the
tussle,

Stood Iseult, arching her neck to the curb,
A lean head and fiery, strong quarters and wiry,

A loin rather light, but a shoulder superb.

Some parting injunction, bestowed with great unction,
I tried to recall, but forgot like a dunce,

When Reginald Murray, full tilt on White Surrey,
Came down in a hurry to start us at once.

" Keep back in the yellow ! Come up on Othello !
Hold hard on the chestnut ! Turn round on The

Drag!
Keep back there on Spartan ! Back you, sir, in

tartan !
So, steady there, easy," and down went the flag.

We started, and Kerr made strong running on

Mermaid,
Through furrows that led to the first stake-and-

bound,
The crack, half extended, look'd bloodlike and

splendid,

Held wide on the right where the headland was
sound.
2 17



Racing Rhymes

I pulled hard to baffle her rush with the snaffle,
Before her two-thirds of the field got away ;

All through the wet pasture where floods of the last

year
Still loitered, they clotted my crimson with clay.

The fourth fence, a wattle, floor'd Monk and Blue-
bottle ;
The Drag came to grief at the blackthorn and

ditch,

The rails toppled over Redoubt and Red Rover,
The lane stopped Lycurgus and Leicestershire
Witch.

She passed like an arrow Kildare and Cock Sparrow,
And Mantrap and Mermaid refused the stone
wall;

And Giles on The Greyling came down at the paling,
And I was left sailing in front of them all.

I took them a burster, nor eased her nor nursed her

Until the Black Bullfinch led into the plough,
And through the strong bramble we bored with a

scramble

My cap was knocked off by the hazel-tree
bough.

18



How We Beat the Favourite

Where furrows looked lighter I drew the rein

tighter
Her dark chest all dappled with flakes of white

foam,
Her flanks mud bespattered, a weak rail she

shattered

We landed on turf with our heads turn'd for
home.

Then crash'd a low binder, and then close behind

her

The sward to the strokes of the favourite shook ;
His rush roused her mettle, yet ever so little

She shorten' d her stride as we raced at the
brook.

She rose when I hit her. I saw the stream glitter,
A wide scarlet nostril flashed close to my knee,

Between sky and water The Clown came and caught

her,
The space that he cleared was a caution to see.

And forcing the running, discarding all cunning,
A length to the front went the rider in green ;

A long strip of stubble, and then the big double,
Two stiff flights of rails with a quickset between.
19



Racing Rhymes

She raced at the rasper, I felt my knees grasp her,
I found my hands give to her strain on the bit ;

She rose when The Clown did our silks as we

bounded
Brush'd lightly, our stirrups clash'd loud as we lit.

A rise steeply sloping, a fence with stone coping
The last we diverged round the base of the hill ;

His path was the nearer, his leap was the clearer,
I flogg'd up the straight, and he led sitting still.

She came to his quarter, and on still I brought her,
And up to his girth, to his breast-plate she drew ;

A short prayer from Neville just reach'd me, " The

devil ! "
He mutter'd lock'd level the hurdles we flew.

A hum of hoarse cheering, a dense crowd careering,
All sights seen obscurely, all shouts vaguely heard ;

"The green wins!" "The crimson!" The multi-
tude swims on,
And figures are blended and features are blurr'd.

"The horse is her master!" "The green forges

past her ! "

" The Clown will outlast her ! " " The Clown
wins ! " " The Clown ! "
20



How We Beat the Favourite

The white railing races with all the white faces,
The chestnut outpaces, outstretches the brown.

On still past the gateway she strains in the straightway,
Still struggles, "The Clown by a short neck at

most,"
He swerves, the green scourges, the stand rocks

and surges,
And flashes, and verges, and flits the white post.

Aye ! so ends the tussle, I knew the tan muzzle
Was first, though the ring-men were yelling

"Dead heat!"
A nose I could swear by, but Clarke said, " The

mare by

A short head." And that's how the favourite
was beat.



THE ROLL OF THE KETTLEDRUM

OR, THE LAY OF THE LAST CHARGER

" You have the Pyrrhic dance, as yet,

Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone ?
Of two such lessons, -why forget

The nobler and the manlier one ? " BYRON.

ONE line of swart profiles, and bearded lips
dressing,
One ridge of bright helmets, one crest

of fair plumes,
One streak of blue sword-blades all bared for the

fleshing,
One row of red nostrils that scent battle-fumes.

Forward ! the trumpets were sounding the charge,
The roll of the kettledrum rapidly ran,

That music, like wild-fire spreading at large,
Madden'd the war-horse as well as the man.

Forward ! still forward ! we thunder'd along,

Steadily yet, for our strength we were nursing ;
Tall Ewart, our sergeant, was humming a song,
Lance-corporal Black Will was blaspheming and
cursing.

22



The Roll of the Kettledrum

Open'd their volley of guns on our right,

Puffs of grey smoke, veiling gleams of red flame,

Curling to leeward, were seen on the height,

Where the batteries were posted, as onward \ve
came.




Spreading before us their cavalry lay,

Squadron on squadron, troop upon troop ;

We were so few, and so many were they
Eagles wait calmly the sparrow-hawk's stoop.
23



Racing Rhymes

Forward ! still forward ! steed answering steed
Cheerily neigh'd while the foam flakes were
toss'd

From bridle to bridle the top of our speed
Was gain'd, but the pride of our order was lost.

One was there, leading by nearly a rood,
Though we were racing he kept to the fore,

Still as a rock in his stirrups he stood,
High in the sunlight his sabre he bore.

Suddenly tottering, backwards he crash'd,
Loudly his helm right in front of us rung ;

Iron hoofs thunder'd, and naked steel flash'd
Over him youngest, where many were young.

Now we were close to them, every horse striding
Madly ; St. Luce pass'd with never a groan ;

Sadly my master look'd round he was riding
On the boy's right, with a line of his own.

Thursting his hand in his breast or breast-pocket,
While from his wrist the sword swung by a

chain,

Swiftly he drew out some trinket or locket,
Kiss'd it (I think) and replaced it again.
24



The Roll of the Kettledrum

Burst, while his fingers reclosed on the haft,
Jarring concussion and earth shaking din,

Horse 'counter'd horse, and I reel'd, but he laughed,
Down went his man, cloven clean to the chin !

Wedged in the midst of that struggling mass,
After the first shock, where each his foe singled,

Little was seen save a dazzle, like glass

In the sun, with gray smoke and black dust
intermingled.

Here and there redden'd a pistol shot, flashing
Through the red sparkle of steel upon steel !

Redder the spark seem'd, and louder the clashing,
Struck from the helm by the iron-shod heel !

Over fallen riders, like wither'd leaves strewing
Uplands in autumn, we sunder'd their ranks ;
Steeds rearing and plunging, men hacking and

hewing,

Fierce grinding of sword-blades, sharp goading
of flanks.

Short was the crisis of conflict soon over
Being too good (I suppose) to last long

Through them we cut, as the scythe cuts the clover,
Batter'd and stain'd we emerged from their throng.
27



Racing Rhymes

Some of our saddles were emptied, of course ;

To heaven (or elsewhere) Black Will had been

carried !
Ned Sullivan mounted Will's riderless horse,

His mare being hurt, while ten seconds we tarried.

And then we reformed, and went at them once

more,
And ere they had rightly closed up the old

track,

We broke through the lane we had open'd before,
And as we went forward e'en so we came back.

Our numbers were few, and our loss far from small,
They could fight, and, besides, they were twenty

to one ;
We were clear of them all when we heard the

recall,
And thus we returned, but my tale is not done.

For the hand of my rider felt strange on my bit,
He breathed once or twice like one partially

choked,

And sway'd in his seat, then I knew he was hit ;
He must have bled fast, for my withers were
soak'd,

28



The Roll of the Kettledrum

And scarcely an inch of my housing was dry ;

I slacken'd my speed, yet I never quite stopp'd,
Ere he patted my neck, said, " Old fellow, good-bye ! "

And dropped off me gently, and lay where he
dropp'd !

Ah, me ! after all, they may call us dumb creatures
I tried hard to neigh, but the sobs took my breath,

Yet I guessed, gazing down at those still, quiet

features,
He was never more happy in life than in death.



Two years back, at Aldershot, Elrington mentioned
My name to our colonel one field-day. He

said,
" ' Count,' ' Steeltrap,' and ' Challenger ' ought to be

pensioned ; "

" Count " died the same week, and now " Steel-
trap " is dead.

That morning our colonel was riding " Theresa,"

The filly by "Teddington " out of "Mistake; "
His girls, pretty Alice and fair-hair'd Louisa,

Were there on the ponies he purchased from
Blake.

29



Racing Rhymes

I remember he pointed me out to his daughters,
Said he, " In this troop I may fairly take pride,

But I 've none left like him in my officers' quarters,
Whose life-blood the mane of old ' Challenger '
dyed."

Where are they the war-steeds who shared in our

glory,

The " Lanercost " colt, and the "Acrobat " mare,
And the Irish division, " Kate Kearney " and

" Rory,"
And rushing " Roscommon," and eager " Kildare,"

And " Freeny," a favourite once with my master,

And " Warlock," a sluggard, but honest and true,
And " Tancred," as honest as " Warlock," but

faster

And " Blacklock," and " Birdlime," and " Molly
Carew"?

All vanish'd, what wonder ! twelve summers have

passed
Since then, and my comrade lies buried this

day

Old " Steeltrap," the kicker and now I 'm the last
Of the chargers who shared in that glorious fray.



The Roll of the Kettledrum

Come, " Harlequin," keep your nose out of my

manger,

You "11 get your allowance, my boy, and no more ;
Snort ! " Silvertail," snort ! when you 've seen as

much danger
As I have, you won't mind the rats in the straw.



Our gallant old colonel came limping and halting,
The day before yesterday, into my stall ;

Oh ! light to the saddle I 've once seen him vaulting,
In full marching order, steel broadsword and
all.

And now his left leg than his right is made shorter
Three inches, he stoops, and his chest is unsound ;

He spoke to me gently, and patted my quarter,
I laid my ears back and look'd playfully round.

For that word kindly meant, that caress kindly

given,
I thank'd him, though dumb, but my cheerfulness

fled;

More sadness I drew from the face of the living
Than years back I did from the face of the
dead.

3 1



Racing Rhymes

For the dead face, upturn'd, tranquil, joyous, and

fearless,
Look'd straight from green sod to blue fathomless

sky
With a smile ; but the living face, gloomy and

tearless,
And haggard and harass'd, look'd down with a sigh.

Did he think on the first time he kiss'd Lady Mary ?

On the morning he wing'd Horace Greville the

beau?
On the winner he steer'd in the grand military?

On the charge that he headed twelve long years ago ?

Did he think on each fresh year, of fresh grief the
herald ?

On lids that are sunken, and locks that are gray ?
On Alice, who bolted with Brian Fitzgerald?

On Rupert, his first-born, dishonor'd by "play"?

On Louey, his darling, who sleeps 'neath the cypress,
That shades her and one whose last breath gave

her life?

I saw those strong fingers hard over each eye press
Oh ! the dead rest in peace when the quick toil
in strife !



The Roll of the Kettledrum

Scoff, man ! egotistical, proud, unobservant,

Since I with man's grief dare to sympathise thus ;

Why scoff? fellow-creature I am, fellow-servant
Of God : can man fathom God's dealings with us ?

The wide gulf that parts us may yet be no wider
Than that which parts you from some being more

blest ;
And there may be more links 'twixt the horse and

his rider
Than ever your shallow philosophy guess'd.

You are proud of your power, and vain of your

courage,

And your blood, Anglo-Saxon, or Norman, or Celt ;
Though your gifts you extol, and our gifts you

disparage,

Your perils, your pleasures, your sorrows we Ve
felt.

We, too, sprung from mares of the prophet of

Mecca,
And nursed on the pride that was born with the

milk,
And filtered through " Crucifix," " Beeswing,"

" Rebecca,"

We love sheen of scarlet and shimmer of silk.
3 33



Racing Rhymes

We, too, sprung from loins of the Ishmaelite
stallions,

We glory in daring that dies or prevails ;
From 'counter of squadrons, and crash of battalions,

To rending of blackthorns, and rattle of rails.

In all strife where courage is tested and power,
From the meet on the hill-side, the horn-blast,
the find,

The burst, the long gallop that seems to devour
The champaign, all obstacles flinging behind,

To the cheer and the clarion, the war- music

blended

With war-cry, the furious dash at the foe,
The terrible shock, the recoil, and the splendid
^are sword, flashing blue, rising red from the
blow.

I 've borne one through perils where many have

seen us,

No tyrant, a kind friend, a patient instructor,
And I Ve felt some strange element flashing between

us,

Till the saddle seem'd turn'd to a lightning
conductor.

34



The Roll of the Kettledrum

Did he see? could he feel through the faintness,

the numbness,
While linger'd the spirit half-loosed from the

clay,

Dumb eyes seeking his in their piteous dumbness,
Dumb quivering nostrils, too stricken to neigh ?

And what then? the colours reversed, the drums

muffled,
The black nodding plumes, the dead march, and

the pall,

The stern faces, soldier-like, silent, unruffled,
The slow sacred music that floats over all !

Cross carbine and boarspear, hang bugle and

banner,

Spur, sabre, and snaffle, and helm Is it well ?
Vain 'scutcheon, false trophies of Mars and

Diana,

Can the dead laurel sprout with the live
immortelle ?

It may be, we follow, and though we inherit
Our strength for a season, our pride for a span,

Say ! vanity are they ? vexation of spirit ?

Not so, since they serve for a time horse and man.
35



Racing Rhymes

They serve for a time, and they make life worth

living,

In spite of life's troubles 't is vain to despond ;
Oh, man ! we at least, we enjoy, with thanksgiving,
God's gifts on this earth, though we look not
beyond.

You sin, and you suffer, and we, too, find sorrow,
Perchance through your sin yet it soon will be

o'er ;

We labour to-day, and we slumber to-morrow,
Strong horse and bold rider ! and who knoweth
more ?

In our barrack-square shouted Drill-sergeant

M'Cluskie,

The roll of the kettledrum rapidly ran,
The colonel wheel'd short, speaking once, dry and

husky,

Would to God I had died with your master, old
man ! "






THE RACE

ON the hill they are crowding together,
In the stand they are crushing for room,
Like midge-flies they swarm on the heather,

They gather like bees on the broom ;
They flutter like moths round a candle

Stale similes, granted, what then?
I 've got a stale subject to handle,
A very stale stump of a pen.

Hark ! the shuffle of feet that are many,

Of voices the many-tongued clang
" Has he had a bad night? " " Has he any

Friends left? " How I hate your turf slang ;
'T is stale to begin with, not witty,

But dull and inclined to be coarse,
But bad men can't use (more 's the pity)

Good words when they slate a good horse.

Heu I heu ! quantus equis (that 's Latin
For " bellows to mend " with the weeds),

They 're off ! lights and shades ! silk and satin !
A rainbow of riders and steeds !
37



Racing Rhymes

And one shows in front, and another

Goes up and is seen in his place,
Sic transit (more Latin) Oh ! bother,

Let 's get to the end of the race.

See, they come round the last turn careering,

Already Tail's colours are struck,
And the green in the vanguard is steering,

And the red "s in the rear of the ruck !
Are the stripes in the shade doom'd to lie long?

Do the blue stars on white skies wax dim ?
Is it Tamworth or Smuggler ? 'T is Bylong

That wins either Bylong or Tim.

As the shell through the breach that is riven

And sapp'd by the springing of mines,
As the bolt from the thunder-cloud driven,

That levels the larches and pines,
Through yon mass parti-colour'd that dashes

Goal-turn'd, clad in many-hued garb,
From rear to van, surges and flashes

The yellow and black of The Barb.

Past The Fly, falling back on the right, and

The Gull, giving way on the left,
Past Tamworth, who feels the whip smite, and

Whose sides by the rowels are cleft ;
38






The Race

Where Tim and the chestnut together
Still bear of the battle the brunt,

As if eight stone twelve were a feather,
He comes with a rush to the front.

Tim Whiffler may yet prove a Tartar,

And Bylong 's the horse that can stay,
But Kean is in trouble, and Carter

Is hard on the satin-skinn'd bay ;
And The Barb comes away unextended,

Hard held, like a second Eclipse,
While behind, the hoof-thunder is blended

With the whistling and crackling of whips.



EPILOGUE

He wins ; yes, he wins upon paper,

He has n't yet won upon turf,
And these rhymes are but moonshine and vapour,

Air-bubbles and spume from the surf.
So be it, at least they are given

Free, gratis, for just what they 're worth,
And (whatever there may be in heaven),

There 's little worth much upon earth.
39



Racing Rhymes

When, with satellites round them, the centre

Of all eyes, hard press'd by the crowd,
The pair, horse and rider, re-enter

The gate, 'mid a shout long and loud,
You may feel as you might feel, just landed

Full length on the grass from a clip
Of a vicious cross-counter, right-handed,

Or upper-cut whizzing from hip.

And that 's not so bad if you 're pick'd up

Discreetly, and carefully nursed ;
Loose teeth by the sponge are soon lick'd up,

And next time you may get home first.
Still I 'm not sure you 'd like it exactly

(Such tastes as a rule are acquired),
And you '11 find in a nutshell this fact lie,

Bruised optics are not much admired.

Do I bore you with vulgar allusions ?

Forgive me, I speak as I feel,
I 've ponder'd and made my conclusions

As the mill grinds the corn to the meal ;
So man striving boldly but kindly,

Ground piecemeal in Destiny's mill,
At his best, taking punishment kindly,

Is only a chopping-block still.
40






The Race

Are we wise ? Our abstruse calculations

Are based on experience long ;
Are we sanguine ? Our high expectations

Are founded on hope that is strong ;
Thus we build an air-castle that crumbles

And drifts, till no traces remain,
And the fool builds again while he grumbles,

And the wise one laughs, building again.

" How came they to pass, these rash blunders,

These false steps so hard to defend?"
Our friend puts the question and wonders ;

We laugh and reply, " Ah ! my friend,
Could you trace the first stride falsely taken,

The distance misjudged, where or how,


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