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The Cab Horses' Story

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis 1876 (Auburn) – 1938 (Melbourne)



Now, you wouldn't imagine, to look at me,
That I was a racehorse once.
I have done my mile in - let me see
No matter. I was no dunce.
But you'd not believe me if I told
Of gallops I did in days of old.

I was first in - ah, well! What's the good?
It hurts to recall those days
When I drew from men, as a proud horse should,
Nothing but words of praise:
Oh, the waving hats, and the cheering crowd!
How could a horse help being proud?

My owner was just as proud as I;
I was cuddled and petted and praised.
My fame was great and my price was high,
And every year 'twas raised.
Then I strained a sinew in ninety-nine,
And that's when started my swift decline.

I was turned to grass for a year or so;
Then dragged to an auction sale;
And a country sport gave me a go;
But how could I hope but fail?
'A crock,' said he. And I here began
To learn of the ways of cruel man.

A year I spent as a lady's hack
I was growing old and spent
But she said that the riding hurt her back;
So we parted; and I went
For a while - and it nearly broke my heart
Dragging a greasy butcher's cart.

Then my stifle went. And I, proud horse,
Son of the nobly born,
The haughty king of a city course,
Knew even a butcher's scorn!
So down the ladder I quickly ran;
Till I came to be owned by a bottle man.

And my bed was hard and my food was poor,
And my work was harder still
Dragging a cart from door to door
The slave of Bottle-oh Bill.
Till even he, for a few mean bob,
Sold me into this hateful job.

As I dozed and dreamed in the ranks one day,
Thinking of good days past,
I heard a voice that I knew cry, 'Hey!
Say, cabby, is this horse fast?'
And he looked at me in a way I know.
'Twas the man I'd loved in the long ago.

'Twas my dear, old master of ninety-nine,
And I waited, fair surprised.
But ne'er by a look and ne'er by sign
Did he show he recognised.
Then I heard his words ('twas my last hard knock):
'Why don't you pole-axe the poor old crock?'

And he turned aside to a low-bred mare
That was foaled on some cockie's farm,
And he drove away. What do I care?
I can come to no more harm.
In a knacker's yard I am worth at least
Some pence for a hungry lion's feast.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was an Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century. Though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1915 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history. Together with Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, both of whom he had collaborated with, he is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets. While attributed to Lawson by 1911, Dennis later claimed he himself was the 'laureate of the larrikin'. When he died at the age of 61, the Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons suggested he was destined to be remembered as the 'Australian Robert Burns'. more…

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