[Editor: This poem by William Blocksidge (also known as William Baylebridge) was published in Songs o’ the South (1908).]
The Black Horseman
“Who rides with me o’er Lota Lea,”
Bill Duggan calls, and calls aloud,
“This night so black, and along this track?”
But the stranger, cold and proud,
Never a word he answers back
As he passes along like a cloud.
His face is stern; his eyes, that burn
With uncanny light, are weirdly staring
Into the gloom; and dark as the tomb
Is the sable robe he’s wearing —
Those noiseless hoofs still a tale of doom
To Bill Duggan’s ears are bearing.
“Hold! stranger, hold!” But, stern and cold,
The horseman down the track has torn.
A nameless fear for a maiden dear
In Duggan’s breast is born —
For Meg has waited through many a year,
And sighed through many a morn.
Soon, chill and pale, he slips the rail;
The doors are passed — alas the day! —
Upon the bed a maid lies dead;
And this is what they say:
“’Tis but five minutes since she fled —
Since Maggie passed away.”
William Blocksidge, Songs o’ the South, London: Watts, 1908, p. 15-16
In this poem, the Black Horseman is a personification of Death.
Lota Lea = presumably a lea (field, grassland, meadow, or pasture) situated beside the Lota Creek (located east of Brisbane, Qld.)
maid = maiden, young woman, young female (may also refer to a female servant)
morn = morning
o’er = (archaic) over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
’tis = (archaic) a contraction of “it is”
torn = past tense of “tear”: to move fast, to move with haste)
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