The Clan Call [poem by Marie E. J. Pitt]

[Editor: This poem by Marie E. J. Pitt was published in The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses (1911).]

The Clan Call.

I patted the head of a pony,
By a Collins-street kerbstone tied,
And my soul is sick for the old things
And the feel of the world outside.

I patted the head of a pony,
My fingers are tingling yet;
And I hear the call of the outlands
Ring over the city’s fret.

He was low and little and weedy,
But he bent his nose to my hand
In the language that never was written,
That the horse-lovers understand.

And I feel the beck of the mountains,
And the worn ways wandering white
Thro’ the ironbarks and the messmates
Are calling to me to-night.

And I ache in this city prison,
In this desert of rolling roofs,
For the lift of snaffle and stirrup,
For the ring of galloping hoofs,

’Mong the hills where the circling eagle
Sails dark on the rim o’ the day,
And the yang yangs’ shrieking phalanx
Heralds the stormy fray.

Flemington, Caulfield, Ascot?
The Derby, the Melbourne Cup?
The seethe of the surging thousands?
The steeds with their riders up?

They’re tainted with craft of Commerce,
By minions of Pelf they’re ruled,
With a fig for the game outsider,
And a curse for the nag that’s “pulled.”

’Twas a merrier sport and cleaner
Where the ironstone ranges rung
To the race that never was written,
To the steeds that never were sung.

’Twas a merrier sport and sweeter,
The chestnut against the brown,
With the weight on the Gippsland gelding
And a win for the mare, hands down.

On the open road we have won them,
Close finish and hard-set teeth,
With God’s own breath on our faces
And His levin of life beneath.

On the open road we have lost them,
Light-hearted and ridden away;
For there’s never a game worth playing,
Where the stake is more than the play.

Yes ! I’m sick to-night for the old things
That grip me like living hands,
In the dark of a world of shadows —
And I know, while the old faith stands,

With the mate of my soul beside me,
Light-hearted, without remorse,
I would tackle The Styx to-morrow
On a fretting Australian horse.

Marie E. J. Pitt, The Horses of the Hills and Other Verses, Melbourne: Specialty Press, 1911, pages 20-22

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