Poem: The Sick Dray-Horse by Kodak (Ernest O'Ferrall)

Melbourne horses have been suffering greatly with influenza. - News Item.

Horse poets have sung in this cantering metre the deeds of the moke and the way they were done,
Of brave steeplechasing, mad charges and musters; of cups of great value and how they were won;
The race-horse, the pack-horse, the colt and the filly, the mare and the gelding -- they've all had their say.
Now here's how the dray-horse contracted the "flu" by absorbing the germs that were hid in the hay.

The life of a dray-horse is dreadfully sordid -- he toils in the shafts that the fav'rite may fling
The mud of defiance on following horses when flying for home to the "roar of the ring"
(Which technical phrase is a trifle confusing unless you're well up in the verses of those
Who've sung in this jiggity-joggity metre the) -- What's that? The dray-horse's story? Here goes!

His name doesn't matter -- his pedigree either. I'm ignorant, too, of the date of his birth.
I really don't know whereabouts he was bred, but no doubt it was somewhere on top of the earth.
He hadn't a point you could hang one poor verse on; not once in his life had he been near a course;
He worked for his living by drawing a milk-cart; he was, in plain speech, "just an average horse."

The life of the suburbs -- that doleful existence -- ne'er quickened his stride nor affected his ears
(You've noticed no doubt, in the horse poets' verses how his brute goes on when the multitude cheers);
"He pricked up his ears and shot out like an arrow by shouting released from the galloping crowd;
I muttered 'Good boy!'" -- and so on and so forth. (I'm convinced such verses should not be allowed.)

He had no adventures, this dray-horse I speak of; his nerves they were steady -- he lived on a farm,
He had no occasion to rush at high fences, nor gallop like mad at a midnight alarm;
He knew not bush-fires, nor troopers, nor bookies; he'd no habit of snorting when war trumpets blew;
He hadn't a vice and he hadn't a virtue. His only performance was catching the "flu."

I may be allowed to remark ere proceeding, a horse of this kind makes a terrible job,
You simply can't stretch him much more than a column; his value in ink is about twenty bob;
But having adroitly made up five long verses, I'll put down the fact that you all along knew.
In proper horse language: "The gallant old fellow was down in his stall.

He'd contacted the 'flu.'" "We treated him well" -- you observe I continue to write in the poet's pathetical strain --
"But spite of bran mashes and ev'ry attention, he never got up in the stable again;
He died like the game 'un he was just at daybreak. I broke down and sobbed as his last breath he drew.
God grant his old ghost in the Paddocks of Peter will never again catch the merciless 'flu.'"

First published in The Bulletin, 8 October 1908

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 15, 2008 8:05 AM.

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