Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
20. The Last Leap
 
By Adam Lindsay Gordon
 
 
ALL is over! fleet career,
  Dash of greyhound slipping thongs,
Flight of falcon, bound of deer,
Mad hoof-thunder in our rear,
  Cold air rushing up our lungs,        5
  Din of many tongues.
 
Once again, one struggle good,
  One vain effort;—he must dwell
Near the shifted post, that stood
Where the splinters of the wood,        10
  Lying in the torn tracks, tell
  How he struck and fell.
 
Crest where cold drops beaded cling,
  Small ear drooping, nostril full,
Glazing to a scarlet ring,        15
Flanks and haunches quivering,
  Sinews stiffening, void and null,
  Dumb eyes sorrowful.
 
Satin coat that seems to shine
  Duller now, black braided tress        20
That a softer hand than mine
Far away was wont to twine,
  That in meadows far from this
  Softer lips might kiss.
 
All is over! this is death,        25
  And I stand to watch thee die,
Brave old horse! with bated breath
Hardly drawn through tight-clenched teeth,
  Lip indented deep, but eye
  Only dull and dry.        30
 
Musing on the husk and chaff
  Gathered where life’s tares are sown,
Thus I speak, and force a laugh,
That is half a sneer and half
  An involuntary groan,        35
  In a stifled tone—
 
‘Rest, old friend! thy day, though rife
  With its toil, hath ended soon;
We have had our share of strife,
Tumblers in the masque of life,        40
  In the pantomime of noon
  Clown and pantaloon.
 
‘With a flash that ends thy pain,
  Respite and oblivion blest
Come to greet thee. I in vain        45
Fall: I rise to fall again:
  Thou hast fallen to thy rest—
  And thy fall is best!’
 

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