[Editor: This poem by N.M. O’Donnell was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
The How-We-Beat-The-Favourite Affliction.
It started at first in the brains of one Gordon
(He blew them out after and somewhat atoned);
Each ass is his echo — encoring— encored on —
A plague on posterity, never condoned.
All ages, from infancy up to virility,
Record how the ring-men were yelling, “Dead heat !”
The tremulous voicing of gummy senility
Out-gibbers — “And that ’s how the fav’rite was beat !”
Attend at a concert, if you are aesthetic,
To soften your spirits, or bolster them up ;
It ’s twenty to one you will get that emetic,
Worn-to rags lay of the Loamshire Hunt Cup.
Soprano sings first of the scenes that are brightest ;
By basso you ’re rocked on the waves of the deep ;
The tenor’s voice trills, in sweet notes of the lightest ;
Contralto attunes you to languorous sleep.
But next ! you ’re aroused by a din of hoarse cheering !
A wide, scarlet nostril flits close to your knees . . .
Some donkey is on to the platform careering,
And, hopeless, you see that he ’s got the disease.
And then you hear all the old fatuous drivel —
How he was left sailing in front of them all ;
Disgusted, you pick up your girl, and locked level,
Discarding all cunning, you race from the hall.
It ’s the same at all socials and picnics and parties,
When Romans foregather, or Orangemen sup :
You ’re told by the Atkinses, Dugalds, and Flahertys,
“Be calm: and we think you may just win the Cup !”
One sentiment only in which you may revel,
On searching the dirge from its finish to start,
Is the short, fervent prayer that is muttered by Neville :
It wakens an echo in every heart.
We ’ve heard it recited aboard of the Cuzco ;
The boys of “the Never” can’t let it go by ;
From the shivering summit of Mount Kosciusko
Its lines have been yelled to the suffering sky.
I ’m weak and I ’m limp ; I am weary and ailing ;
I ’ll never enjoy the same vigour again ;
But — “Giles, on the greyling, came down at the paling” —
I fear, by my soul ! that I ’m going insane.
“Keep back on The Heifer ; lie by on The Mullock ;
Back you, sir, on Fig-leaves ; sit still on The Hag ;
Slide down on The Rainbow; turn round on The Bullock ;
So, steady there — easy — and up went the rag !”
May The Clown, at the stud, prove completely defective,
And drift, at the last, to the shafts of a cart ;
May Iseult, with pain, feel the rage and invective
Of thousands of sufferers gnaw at her heart.
May the lampass annoy them, the glanders attack them,
The heaves and bronchitis e’er torture their breath,
May greasy heels lame them, and thoroughpin rack them,
And spavin and bots bring them down to their death !
N. M. O’Donnell.
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 105-107
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