HORSE THAT DIED FOR ME
by Trooper Gerady, Australian Light Horse
me a fiery horse to groom, and I rode him on parade,
While he plunged and swung for kicking room like a young and haughty jade.
I rode him hard till I curbed his will, hot foot in the sham attack,
Till he ceased to jib, and took to drill like a first-class trooper’s hack.
He tasted hell on the Indian
sea. Pent up in the gloom below,
He dreamed of the days when he was free, and his weary heart beat slow.
But he lived to leave the reeking ship, and raised his drooping head
With new-born zest when he felt the grip of the earth beneath his tread.
I left him and sailed away
to fight on foot in the trenches deep-
A stretch that passed like an awful hour of fearsome nightmare sleep.
I lived to search for a mount once more on the crowded piquet line-
I rode him out as I did before, when I’d claimed the horse as mine.
I loved him as only one who
knows the way of a horse may love;
Who rides athirst when the hell-wind blows and the sun stands still above;
Who rides for cover behind the rise that lifts like a wall of woe
And smites the vision of burning eyes when the Moslem lead rips low.
Far out on the hock-deep sands
that roll in waves to the flaming sky,
He carried me far on the night patrol where the Turkish outposts lie;
He took me back to the camp at noon when the skirmish died amain,
And under a white and spectral moon he bore me afield again.
Our squadrons surged to the
left and right when the fire of the day was dead;
The foeman crept in the sombre night with a wary, noiseless tread.
We moved away on a flanking march, like a brown line rudely drawn
That reached the foot of the grey sky’s arch in the waking light of dawn.
The line closed in when the
red sun shot from the purple-tinted east
To glare with scorn on the wretched lot of man and his jaded beast.
I urged my horse with a purpose grim for a ridge where cover lay,
And my heart beat high for the heart of him when he saved my life that day.
His knees gave way and I slipped
from him: he dropped in a sprawling heap
On the wind-gapped edge of the skyline’s rim where the high-blown sand was deep;
And fear came down with a gusty rain of lead on his final bed ……..
Before I turned for cover again I knew that his life had fled.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My heart is warm for a heart that died in the desert flank attack,
And the white sand surges down to hide the bones of a trooper’s hack.
Australian Light Horse Ballads and Rhymes by TrooperGerardy,
Australian Light Horse, 1919