The C.J. Dennis Society

News & Events

10 Nov 2014

A C.J. Dennis masterpiece

This poem shows Dennis' ability to write about current issues as they emerged in his lifetime.   This poem was extremely relevant because the S.P.C.A (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) had neen recently formed and becoming active in the community

Works in the Herald 1922


                    Drivers of cabs who ill-treat their horses are being specially searched for today by members of the S.P.C.A.

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.