Fytte III: Zu der edlen Yagd

[A Treatise on TreesVine-tree v. Saddle-tree]


‘Now, welcome, welcome, masters mine,

Thrice welcome to the noble chase,

Nor earthly sport, nor sport divine,

Can take such honourable place.’

Ballad of the Wild Huntsman.

(Free Translation.)


I REMEMBER some words my father said,

When I was an urchin vain ;—

God rest his soul, in his narrow bed

These ten long years he hath lain.

When I think one drop of the blood he bore

This faint heart surely must hold,

It may be my fancy and nothing more,

But the faint heart seemeth bold.


He said that as from the blood of grape,

Or from juice distilled from the grain,

False vigour, soon to evaporate,

Is lent to nerve and brain,

So the coward will dare on the gallant horse

What he never would dare alone,

Because he exults in a borrowed force,

And a hardihood not his own.


And it may be so, yet this difference lies

‘Twixt the vine and the saddle-tree,

The spurious courage that drink supplies

Sets our baser passions free ;

But the stimulant which the horseman feels,

When he gallops fast and straight,

To his better nature most appeals

And charity conquers hate.


As the kindly sunshine thaws the snow,

E’en malice and spite will yield,

We could almost welcome our mortal foe

In the saddle by flood and field ;

And chivalry dawns in the merry tale

That ‘Market Harborough’ writes,

And the yarns of ‘Nimrod’ and ‘Martingale’

Seem legends of loyal knights.


Now, tell me for once, old horse of mine

Grazing round me loose and free,

Does your ancient equine heart repine

For a burst in such companie,

Where ‘the Powers that be’ in the front rank ride,

To hold your own with the throng,

Or to plunge at ‘Faugh-a-Ballagh’s’ side

In the rapids of Dandenong ?


Don’t tread on my toes, you’re no foolish weight,

So I found to my cost, as under

Your carcass I lay, when you rose too late,

Yet I blame you not for the blunder.

What ! sulky, old man, your under lip falls !

You think I too ready to rail am

At your kinship remote to that duffer at walls,

The talkative roadster of Balaam.


Published in ‘Sea Spray and Smoke Drift’ (1867).