William Henry Ogilvie
His Epitaph - Poem by William Henry Ogilvie
On a little old bush racecourse at the back of No Man’s Land,
Where the mulgas mark the furlongs and a dead log marks the stand,
There’s a square of painted railings showing white against the loam
Where they fight for inside running as they round the bend for home;
Just a lonely grave and graveyard that are left to Nature’s care,
For the wild bush-flowers that brighten it were never planted there;
No monument or marble that will speak his praise or blame,
No verse to tell his story and no mark to prove his name.
But carved upon the white rail that is weather-worn and thin
Is the simple, roug-hewn legend: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!
Some poor, uncared-for jockey-boy, who never earned a name –
It’s the boys who “ride to orders” who can find the road to Fame;
And the flowers and marble head-stones and the wealth of gear and gold
Are the prizes of the riders who will “stop them” when they’re told!
Just a whisper at the saddling; “He’s the only danger, Dan,
That’s the boy will try to beat you – stop him, any way you can!”
Just a crowding at the corner and a crossing in the straight,
And a plucky little horseman who is “pulling out” too late;
A heavy fall, a horse is loose – and a lightweight carried in –
A shallow grave, a railing and: “HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!”
Some brave, brown-handed comrade who has learned the rider’s worth
Has carved those rough words o’er him for the eyes of all the earth;
And though few may chance to pass him as he lies in simple state,
Those few will hold him honoured by the friendship of his mate.
And when, in Life’s keen struggle, we shall fight for inside place,
When they crowd us at the corner and we drop from out the race,
When the ringing hoofs go forward and the cheering greets the best,
And the prize is for the winner, and the red spurs for the rest,
May we find some true-heart comrade, when they’ve filled the last clods in,
Who will carve these words above us: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!
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