The Race Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


On the hill they are crowding togetherA
In the stand they are crushing for roomB
Like midge flies they swarm on the heatherA
They gather like bees on the broomB
They flutter like moths round a candleC
Stale similes granted what thenD
I've got a stale subject to handleC
A very stale stump of a penD
Hark the shuffle of feet that are manyE
Of voices the many tongued clangF
Has he had a bad night Has he anyE
Friends left How I hate your turf slangF
'Tis stale to begin with not wittyE
But dull and inclined to be coarseG
But bad men can't use more's the pityE
Good words when they slate a good horseG
Heu heu quantus equis that's LatinH
For bellows to mend with the weedsI
They're off lights and shades silk and satinH
A rainbow of riders and steedsI
And one shows in front and anotherA
Goes up and is seen in his placeJ
Sic transit more Latin Oh botherA
Let's get to the end of the raceJ
See they come round the last turn careeringK
Already Tait's colours are struckL
And the green in the vanguard is steeringK
And the red's in the rear of the ruckL
Are the stripes in the shade doom'd to lie longM
Do the blue stars on white skies wax dimN
Is it Tamworth or Smuggler 'Tis BylongM
That wins either Bylong or TimN
As the shell through the breach that is rivenH
And sapp'd by the springing of minesO
As the bolt from the thunder cloud drivenH
That levels the larches and pinesO
Through yon mass parti colour'd that dashesP
Goal turn'd clad in many hued garbQ
From rear to van surges and flashesP
The yellow and black of The BarbQ
Past The Fly falling back on the right andR
The Gull giving way on the leftS
Past Tamworth who feels the whip smite andR
Whose sides by the rowels are cleftS
Where Tim and the chestnut togetherA
Still bear of the battle the bruntT
As if eight stone twelve were a featherA
He comes with a rush to the frontT
Tim Whiffler may yet prove a TartarA
And Bylong's the horse that can stayU
But Kean is in trouble and CarterA
Is hard on the satin skinn'd bayU
And The Barb comes away unextendedU
Hard held like a second EclipseV
While behind the hoof thunder is blendedU
With the whistling and crackling of whipsV
He wins yes he wins upon paperA
He hasn't yet won upon turfW
And these rhymes are but moonshine and vapourA
Air bubbles and spume from the surfW
So be it at least they are givenH
Free gratis for just what they're worthX
And whatever there may be in heavenH
There's little worth much upon earthX
When with satellites round them the centreA
Of all eyes hard press'd by the crowdU
The pair horse and rider re enterA
The gate 'mid a shout long and loudU
You may feel as you might feel just landedU
Full length on the grass from the clipY
Of a vicious cross counter right handedU
Or upper cut whizzing from hipY
And that's not so bad if you're pick'd upZ
Discreetly and carefully nursedU
Loose teeth by the sponge are soon lick'd upZ
And next time you MAY get home firstU
Still I'm not sure you'd like it exactlyE
Such tastes as a rule are acquiredU
And you'll find in a nutshell this fact lieA2
Bruised optics are not much admiredU
Do I bore you with vulgar allusionsB2
Forgive me I speak as I feelC2
I've pondered and made my conclusionsB2
As the mill grinds the corn to the mealC2
So man striving boldly but blindlyE
Ground piecemeal in Destiny's millD2
At his best taking punishment kindlyE
Is only a chopping block stillD2
Are we wise Our abstruse calculationsB2
Are based on experience longM
Are we sanguine Our high expectationsB2
Are founded on hope that is strongM
Thus we build an air castle that crumblesE2
And drifts till no traces remainF2
And the fool builds again while he grumblesE2
And the wise one laughs building againD
How came they to pass these rash blundersG2
These false steps so hard to defendU
Our friend puts the question and wondersG2
We laugh and reply Ah my friendU
Could you trace the first stride falsely takenH
The distance misjudged where or howH2
When you pick'd yourself up stunn'd and shakenH
At the fence 'twixt the turf and the ploughH2
In the jar of the panel reboundingM
In the crash of the splintering woodU
In the ears to the earth shock resoundingM
In the eyes flashing fire and bloodU
In the quarters above you revolvingM
In the sods underneath heaving highA2
There was little to aid you in solvingM
Such questions the how or the whyA2
And destiny steadfast in triflesE2
Is steadfast for better or worseI2
In great things it crushes and stiflesE2
And swallows the hopes that we nurseI2
Men wiser than we are may wonderA
When the future they cling to so fastU
To the roll of that destiny's thunderA
Goes down with the wrecks of the pastU
The past the dead past that has swallow'dU
All the honey of life and the milkM
Brighter dreams than mere pastimes we've follow'dU
Better things than our scarlet or silkM
Aye and worse things that past is it reallyE
Dead to us who again and againD
Feel sharply hear plainly see clearlyE
Past days with their joy and their painF2
Like corpses embalm'd and unburiedU
They lie and in spite of our willD2
Our souls on the wings of thought carriedU
Revisit their sepulchres stillD2
Down the channels of mystery glidingM
They conjure strange tales rarely readU
Of the priests of dead Pharaohs presidingM
At mystical feasts of the deadU
Weird pictures arise quaint devicesJ2
Rude emblems baked funeral meatsK2
Strong incense rare wines and rich spicesJ2
The ashes the shrouds and the sheetsK2
Does our thraldom fall short of completenessL2
For the magic of a charnel house charmM2
And the flavour of a poisonous sweetnessL2
And the odour of a poisonous balmN2
And the links of the past but no matterA
For I'm getting beyond you I guessO2
And you'll call me as mad as a hatterA
If my thoughts I too freely expressO2
I subjoin a quotation pray learn itU
And with the aid of your lexicon tell usL2
The meaning thereof Res discernitU
Sapiens quas confundit asellusL2
Already green hillocks are swellingM
And combing white locks on the barA
Where a dull droning murmur is tellingM
Of winds that have gather'd afarA
Thus we know not the day nor the morrowA
Nor yet what the night may bring forthP2
Nor the storm nor the sleep nor the sorrowA
Nor the strife nor the rest nor the wrathQ2
Yet the skies are still tranquil and starlitU
The sun 'twixt the wave and the westU
Dies in purple and crimson and scarletU
And gold let us hope for the bestU
Since again from the earth his effulgenceL2
The darkness and damp dews shall wipeR2
Kind reader extend your indulgenceL2
To this the last lay of The PipeR2

Adam Lindsay Gordon


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