William Henry Ogilvie
Harry Morant - Poem by William Henry Ogilvie
Harry Morant was a friend I had
In the years long passed away,
A chivalrous, wild and reckless lad,
A knight born out of his day.
Full of romance and void of fears,
With a love of the world’s applause,
He should have been one of the cavaliers
Who fought in King Charles’s cause.
He loved a girl, and he loved a horse,
And he never let down a friend,
And reckless he was, but he rode his course
With courage up to the end.
“Breaker Morant” was the name he earned,
For no bucking horse could throw
This Englishman who had lived and learned
As much as the bushmen know.
Many a mile have we crossed together,
Out where the great plains lie,
To the clink of bit and the creak of leather –
Harry Morant and I.
Time and again we would challenge Fate
With some wild and reckless “dare”,
Shoving some green colt over a gate
As though with a neck to spare.
At times in a wilder mood than most
We would face them at naked wire,
Trusting the sight of a gidyea post
Would lift them a half-foot higher.
And once we galloped a steeplechase
For a bet – ’twas a short half-mile
While one jump only, the stiffest place
In a fence of the old bush style.
A barrier built of blue-gum rails
As thick as a big man’s thigh,
And mortised into the posts – no nails –
Unbreakable, four foot high.
Since both our horses were young and green
And had never jumped or raced,
Were we men who had tired of this earthly scene
We could scarce have been better placed.
“Off” cried “The Breaker”, and off we went
And he stole a length of lead,
Over the neck of the grey I bent
And we charged the fence full speed.
The brown horse slowed and tried to swerve,
But his rider with master hand
And flaming courage and iron nerve
Made him lift and leap and land.
He rapped it hard with every foot
And was nearly down on his nose;
Then I spurred the grey and followed suit
And, praise to the gods – he rose!
He carried a splinter with both his knees
And a hind-leg left some skin,
But we caught them up at the wilga trees
Sitting down for the short run-in.
They grey was game and he carried on
But the brown had a bit to spare;
The post was passed, my pound was gone,
And a laugh was all my share.
“The Breaker” is sleeping in some far place
Where the Boer War heroes lie,
And we’ll meet no more in a steeplechase –
Harry Morant and I.
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