Works in the Herald 1922

Drivers of cabs who ill-treat their horses are being specially searched for today by members of the S.P.C.A.

Now, you wouldn't imagine, to look at me,
   That I was a racehorse once.
I have done my mile in -- let me see --
   No matter.  I was no dunce.
But you'd not believe me if I told
Of gallops I did in days of old.

I was first in -- ah, well!  What's the good?
   It hurts to recall those days
When I drew from men, as a proud horse should,
   Nothing but words of praise:
Oh, the waving hats, and the cheering crowd!
How could a horse help being proud?

My owner was just as proud as I;
   I was cuddled and petted and praised.
My fame was great and my price was high,
   And every year 'twas raised.
Then I strained a sinew in ninety-nine,
And that's when started my swift decline.

I was turned to grass for a year or so;
   Then dragged to an auction sale;
And a country sport gave me a go;
   But how could I hope but fail?
"A crock," said he.  And I here began
To learn of the ways of cruel man.

A year I spent as a lady's hack --
   I was growing old and spent --
But she said that the riding hurt her back;
   So we parted; and I went
For a while - and it nearly broke my heart --
Dragging a greasy butcher's cart.

Then my stifle went.  And I, proud horse,
   Son of the nobly born,
The haughty king of a city course,
   Knew even a butcher's scorn!
So down the ladder I quickly ran;
Till I came to be owned by a bottle man.

And my bed was hard and my food was poor,
   And my work was harder still
Dragging a cart from door to door --
   The slave of Bottle-oh Bill.
Till even he, for a few mean bob,
Sold me into this hateful job.

As I dozed and dreamed in the ranks one day,
   Thinking of good days past,
I heard a voice that I knew cry, "Hey!
   Say, cabby, is this horse fast?"
And he looked at me in a way I know.
'Twas the man I'd loved in the long ago.

'Twas my dear, old master of ninety-nine,
   And I waited, fair surprised.
But ne'er by a look and ne'er by sign
   Did he show he recognised.
Then I heard his words ('twas my last hard knock):
"Why don't you pole-axe the poor old crock?"

And he turned aside to a low-bred mare
   That was foaled on some cockie's farm,
And he drove away.  What do I care?
   I can come to no more harm.
In a knacker's yard I am worth at least
Some pence for a hungry lion's feast.

Herald, 20 May 1922

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002