Shakespeare on the Turf
SCENE: The saddling paddock at a racecourse.
Citizens, Battlers, Toffs, Trainers, Flappers, Satyrs, Bookmakers and Turf Experts.
Enter Shortinbras, a Trainer, and two Punters.
FIRST PUNTER: Good Shortinbras, what thinkest thou of the Fav'rite?
SHORTINBRAS (aside): This poltroon would not venture a ducat
on David to beat a dead donkey; a dull and muddy-mettled rascal.
(To Punter): Aye marry Sir, I think well of the Favourite.
PUNTER: And yet I have a billiard marker's word
That in this race to-day they back Golumpus,
And when they bet, they tell me, they will knock
The Favourite for a string of German Sausage.
SHORTINBRAS: Aye, marry, they would tell thee, I've no doubt,
It is the way of owners that they tell
To billiard markers and the men on trams
Just when they mean to bet. Go back it, back it!
(Tries to shuffle off, but Punter detains him.)
PUNTER: Nay, good Shortinbras, what thinkest thou of Golumpus?
Was it not dead last week?
SHORTINBRAS: Marry, sir, I think well of Golumpus.
'Tis safer to speak well of the dead: betimes they rise again.
They pulled him barefaced in the mile,
Hey, Nonny, Nonny.
The Stipes were watching them all the while;
And the losers swear, but the winners smile,
Hey, Nonny, Nonny.
SECOND RUNTER: A scurvy knave! What meant he by his prate
Of Fav'rite and outsider and the like?
Forsooth he told us nothing. Follow him close.
Give him good watch, I pray you, till we see
Just what he does his dough on. Follow fast.
The same. Bookmakers call: 'Seven to Four on the Field!'
'Three to One, Bar One!' 'Ten to One, Golumpus.'
Enter Two Heads.
FIRST HEAD: How goes the battle? Did thou catch the last?
SECOND HEAD: Aye, marry did I, and the one before,
But this has got me beat. The Favourite drifts,
And not a single wager has been laid
About Golumpus. Thinkest thou that both are dead?
PUNTER: Good morrow, Gentlemen. I have it cold
Straight from the owner, that Golumpus goes
Eyes out to win today.
FIRST HEAD: Prate not to me of owners. Hast thou seen
The good red gold Go in. The Jockey's Punter
Has he put up the stuff, or does he wait
To get a better price. Owner say'st thou?
The owner does the paying, and the talk;
Hears the tale afterwards when it gets beat
And sucks it in as hungry babes suck milk.
Look you how ride the books in motor cars
While owners go on foot, or ride in trams,
Crushed with the vulgar herd and doomed to hear
From mouths of striplings that their horse was stiff,
When they themselves are broke from backing it.
Enter an Owner and a Jockey
OWNER: 'Tis a good horse. A passing good horse.
JOCKEY: I rose him yesternoon: it seemed to me
That in good truth a fairly speedy cow
Might well outrun him.
OWNER: Thou froward varlet; must I say again,
That on the Woop Woop course he ran a mile
In less than forty with his irons on!
JOCKEY: Then thou should'st bring the Woop Woop course down here.
OWNER: Thou pestilential scurvy Knave. Go to!
Alarms and excursions. The race is run and Shortinbras enters,
leading in the winner.
FIRST PUNTER: And thou hast trained the winner, thou thyself,
Thou complicated liar. Didst not say
To back Golumpus or the Favourite!
SHORTINBRAS: Get work! For all I ever had of thee
My children were unfed, my wife unclothed,
And I myself condemned to menial toil.
PUNTER: The man who keeps a winner to himself
Deserves but death. (Kills him)
Enter defeated Owner and Jockey.
OWNER: Thou whoreson Knave: thou went into a trance
Soon as the barrier lifted and knew naught
Of what occurred until they neared the post.
Curtain falls on ensemble of punters, bookmakers,
heads and surviving jockeys and trainers.
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(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
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