Uncared for, outcast from the living hell,
The hull that crossed the main,
The hand of Mammon drove them forth to sell,
To be as exiles slain.
? and galled, with hollow, sunken,
Rib-furrowed, heads hung down,
They passed to their blood-scented Paradise
In Antwerp’s careless town.
Slow as for funeral, lo! with many a pause
They went their fate to find—
For pain the gum down-roping from their jaws:
The maimed, the halt, the blind.
Through Antwerp’s street the drear procession
The very pavement groaned,
These were the horses English hearts had loved
And England had disowned.
Two hundred horses had done their best,
Served Britain to the end;
Two hundred going to their solemn rest
With only Death for friend.
Two hundred horses foaled across the sea.
Their island’s joy and pride,
They had not bargained for their labour’s fee
That pain to death should ride.
This was the surest hunter ever reined,
That won the famous race,
This to the clang of arms was steeled and
That learned a lady’s pace.
That, once, the wisest in the land bestrode,
And this a prince had borne,
This to the stall the jolly plowman rode
That knew the coachman’s horn.
Condemned they went to where the knackers
Their crime was being old;
One only curse their backs to-day,—
The greed of man for gold.
On, on, they staggered thro’ an alien street,
The bearer’s of our name,
And not a heart that in compassion beat
And not a tongue cried “shame!”
The bells for prayer rang clear above the crowd,
The priests went to and fro,
None said, “this sorry work was disallowed
By Christ long years ago.”
(Fife Free Press & Kirkcaldy Guardian, 19 March 1910, p. 3)