Cicely Fox Smith
The Last Race - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
They brought her to the crowded paddock,
The red sun glinting on skin like jet,
Lightning, the winner of twenty races,
The mare that had never been beaten yet;
And the people who deemed that her lot was failure
Gave a pitying glance as they sauntered past,
Saying: 'Her racing days are over,
Pity to bring her to lose at last!'
Over the hurdles they go together -
(Has she forgotten her old-time skill?) -
And her master stoops in the saddle to whisper,
'Courage, old lass, and we'll beat them still!'
One more fight - 'tis the last, last struggle,
The last, last time that the welcoming cheer
Will rise from the crowd as she forges onward,
Growing in strength as the end draws near!
She is up with the first - now they stride together,
The old horse striving with might and main,
As she spurns the turf she has trod so often,
The course she never will tread again.
Flank to flank, not an inch to part them;
Was there ever a race that was run so well?
But with one great bound past the post she galloped,
Won by a neck - then she staggered and fell.
Gallant old racer: she died in action!
Her triumphs are over, her work is done.
Better to go to her death, unbeaten,
In the last, last race she will ever run!
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