"Stopped in the straight when the race was his own!
Look at him cutting it -- cur to the bone!"
Ask ere the youngster be rated and chidden
What did he carry and how was he ridden?
Maybe they used him too much at the start.
Maybe Fate's weight-cloth was breaking his heart.
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods ...
But there is no road through the woods.
The eldest son bestrides him,
And the pretty daughter rides him,
And I meet him oft o' mornings on the Course;
And there kindles in my bosom
An emotion chill and gruesome
As I canter past the Undertaker's Horse.
Neither shies he nor is restive,
But a hideously suggestive
Trot, professional and placid, he affects;
And the cadence of his hoof-beats
To my mind a grim reproof beats:--
"Mend your pace, my friend. I'm coming. Who's the next?"
Ah! stud-bred of ill-omen,
I have watched the strongest go--men
Of pith and might and muscle--at your heels,
Down the plantain-bordered highway,
(Heaven send it ne'er be my way!)
In a lacquered box and jetty upon wheels.
Answer, sombre beast and dreary,
Where is Brown, the young, the cheery?
Smith, the pride of all his friends and half the Force?
You were at that last dread dâk
We must cover at a walk,
Bring them back to me, O Undertaker's Horse.
With your mane unhogged and flowing,
And your curious way of going,
And that businesslike black crimping of your tail,
E'en with Beauty on your back, Sir,
Pacing as a lady's hack, Sir,
What wonder when I meet you I turn pale?
It may be you wait your time, Beast,
Till I write my last bad rhyme, Beast--
Quit the sunlight, cut the rhyming, drop the glass--
Follow after with the others,
Where some dusky heathen smothers
Us with marigolds in lieu of English grass.
Or, perchance, in years to follow,
I shall watch your plump sides hollow,
See Carnifax (gone lame) become a corse--
See old age at last o'erpower you,
And the Station Pack devour you,
I shall chuckle then, O Undertaker's Horse!
But to insult, jibe, and quest, I've
Still the hideously suggestive
Trot that hammers out the unrelenting text,
And I hear it hard behind me
In what place soe'er I find me:--
"'Sure to catch you soon or later. Who's the next?"
She did not know that she was dead,
But, when the pang was o'er,
Sat down to wait her Master's tread
Upon the Golden Floor,
With ears full-cock and anxious eyes,
But ignorant that Paradise
Did not admit her kind.
Person with Haloes, Harps, and Wings
Assembled and reproved;
Or talked to her of Heavenly things,
But Dinah never moved.
There was one step along the Stair
That led to Heaven's Gate;
And, till she heard it, her affair,
Was--she explained--to wait.
And she explained with flattened ear,
Bared lip and milky tooth --
Storming against Ithuriel's Spear
That only proved her truth!
Sudden--far down the Bridge of Ghosts
That anxious spirits clomb--
She caught that step in all the hosts,
And knew that he had come.
She left them wondering what to do,
But not a doubt had she.
Swifter than her own squeal she flew
Across the Glassy Sea;
Flushing the Cherubs everywhere,
And skidding as she ran,
She refuged under Peter's Chair
And waited for her man.
There spoke a Spirit out of the press,
Said: "Have you any here
That saved a fool from drunkeness,
And a coward from his fear?
"That turned a soul from dark to day
When other help was vain;
That snatched it from Wanhope and made
A cur a man again?"
"Enter and look," said Peter then,
And set The Gate ajar.
"If I know aught of women and men
I trow she is not far."
"Neither by virtue, speech nor art
Nor hope of grace to win;
But godless innocence of heart
That never heard of sin:
Neither by beauty nor belief
Nor white example shown.
Something a wanton--more a thief--
But--most of all--mine own."
"Enter and look," said Peter then,
"And send you well to speed;
But, for all that I know of women and men
Your riddle is hard to read."
Then flew Dinah from under the Chair,
Into his arms she flew--
And licked his face from chin to hair
And Peter passed them through!
1776 - BEFORE
Twas not while England's sword unsheathed
Put half a world to flight,
Nor while their new-built cities breathed
Secure behind her might;
Not while she poured from Pole to Line
Treasure and ships and men--
These worshippers at Freedom's shrine
They did not quit her then!
Not till their foes were driven forth
By England o'er the main--
Not till the Frenchman from the North
Had gone with shattered Spain;
Not till the clean-swept oceans showed
No hostile flag unrolled,
Did they remember what they owed
To Freedom--and were bold!
From the Greek:
Swifter than aught 'neath the sun the car of Simonides moved him.
Two things he could not out-run--Death and a Woman who loved him.
Thirteen as twelve my Murray always took
He was a publisher. The new Police
Have neater ways of bringing men to book,
So Juan found himself before J.P.'s
Accused of storming through that placid nook
At practically any pace you please.
The Dogberry, and the Waterbury, made
It fifty milefive pounds. And Juan paid!
He wandered down the mountain grade
Beyond the speed assigned--
A youth whom Justice often stayed
And generally fined.
He went alone, that none might know
If he could drive or steer.
Now he is in the ditch, and Oh!
The differential gear!
|Kipling | Millay | Frost | Chesterton | Nash | Various | Rohan | Nathan|
|Bashô | Hopkins | Chinese | Burns | Slavic | Igor | Sappho | Wolfe|
|Ridges | Walden | Pine | Black Oak | Little Pine | Chestnut | Haw|
|Greenbelt | Emory Valley | Pellissippi | Key Springs | Snapping Turtle Pond|