Weighed In [poem by C.J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C.J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913). Most of the poetry of C.J. Dennis is written in the style of the Australian vernacular. See the Glossary for explanations of words and phrases.]

Weighed In.

There’s mourning on the course to-day,
The hurdle rails are splashed and red,
A jockey hurt, or killed, they say:
And — did you hear? The favourite’s dead.

Gay, laughing women in the stand;
An eager throng upon the flat.
“They’re off! Hurrah! The start was grand!
They seldom get away like that!”

With steady eye and steady hand
He rides, nor gives a thought to fear.
The favourite springs at his command;
And gaunt Death, grinning, gallops near.

“One, two, three, . . . Over! Every one! .. .. ..
Man, this is racing, . . . . good to see!
They’ll smash, for sure, before it’s done,
That pace will test their pedigree.”

With brain alert and tight-held reins
He schemes and battles for a place;
The blood bounds faster in his veins,
And grim Death follows in the race.

“Hey! Watch the way they take the sticks!
The pace is just a cracker now;
The favourite has ’em in a fix!
The favourite has ’em anyhow!

With stern-set face and kindling eye;
No thought of danger in his mind,
He notes the furlongs flashing by,
And Death rides hard, a length behind.

“Ay, was there ever such a race?
See how he leaves them one by one.
They’ll never catch him! What a pace!
He leads! The race is as good as done.”

Bright colours flash beneath the sun,
The quickening hoof-beats spurn the earth;
“One jump, and then, the race is won!” —
(Gaunt Death draws level with his girth).

“The favourite wins! The favourite wins!
Look, look! — Oh, curse the bungling clown!
(Now, God deal gently with his sins).
“The favourite’s down! The favourite’s down!”

Up in the stand a woman’s shriek,
A still form lying in the sun,
Upon the rails a crimson streak.
The cheering crowd. . . . The race is won.

“A splendid horse, clean-limbed and strong,
A thoroughbred in ev’ry limb;
A pity, mate, they rode him wrong,
We seldom see the likes o’ him.”

A white cloth over his pale face,
A wild-eyed woman by this side.

(Look out! They’re starting the next race!)
And grim Death chuckles o’er the ride.

Gay, laughing women in the stand,
Tense, feverish gamesters on the flat.
“The Steeple? Man, the race was grand!
A shame the favourite fell like that.”

There’s mourning on the course to-day,
The hurdle rails are splashed and red.
The favourite’s killed! The rider? Nay,
There’s some will surely mourn him, dead.




Source:
C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913], pages 149-151

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