I write our hunt's newsletters and like to finish each one with a poem, hunting related naturally. Well I'm about to finish a newsletter (called the Full Wire, as that's what we often jump here) and need a poem to sign off with.
Does anyone have any suggestions please? Or a website I could check out to find one - or more!
W. Phillpotts Williams has several books of foxhunting poems, including Plain Poems, Poems in Red, and Poems in Pink.
The Book of Hunting Songs and Sports is a foxhunting anthology primarily, and includes poems.
Songs of Horses, Saddle and Song, and In the Saddle although general horse-related poetry anthologies, include foxhunting selections.
R. E. Egerton Warburton I believe may have some books of foxhunting poems -- or at least selections of poems in his book(s). Ditto G. J. Whyte. Possibly Arthur Conan Doyle, IIRC (I know it was someone that kind of surprised me as it wasn't what I expected given their primary genre).
All these are public domain -- try Google Books or Internet Archive for copies.
The hoofs of the horses! Oh witching and sweet
Is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet;
No whisper of lover, no trilling of bird
Can stir me as hoofs of the horses have stirred.
They spurn disappointment and trample despair,
And drown with their drum-beats the challenge of care;
With scarlet and silk for their banners above,
They are swifter than Fortune and sweeter than Love.
On the wings of the morning they gather and fly,
In the hush of the night-time I hear them go by-
The horses of memory all thundering through
With flashing white fetlocks all wet with the dew.
When you lay me to slumber no spot you can choose
But will ring to the rhythm of galloping shoes,
And under the daisies no grave be so deep
But the hoofs of the horses shall sound in my sleep.
An original poem by Paul Mellon
The day my final race is run
And, win or lose, the sinking sun
Tells me it's time to quit the track
And gracefully hang up my tack,
I'll thank the Lord the life I've led
Was always near a Thoroughbred.
I've had my share of falls and knocks
Pursuing the elusive fox.
I've heard the stirring cry of hounds
From Melton to the Sussex Downs.
Each spring I ride a hundred miles
(My tail bright red, my face all smiles).
And I have seen the thrilling pace
Of many a cutthroat steeplechase
And watched with breath and mind
until a classic race has ended.
For those high days can end in pain,
Or in a bottle of champagne.
So if the downward course is steep
Where smoke and flames and devils leap
I'll hope I'm on a hellish steed
Running his heart out with no need
For voice or spurs or flailing whip
To guarantee he gets the trip.
But if about the sixteenth pole
God should have mercy on my soul,
I hope He'll raise me to the clouds
Above the grandstand and the crowds
And there I'll take my ease, and wait
Behind the pearly starting gate.
And long before I break God's bread
Or buy a halo for my head
Or sink into a starry bed
Or say the prayers I should have said
Before the donuts, rolls, or coffees,
I'll find the secretary's office.
In my first interview, of course,
I'll ask St. Peter for a horse.
He'll lead me down the heavenly sheds
Past miles and miles of Thoroughbreds
And say,"Since you've escaped Old Nick ...
They're on the house; just take your pick".
So when old Gabriel's golden horn
Echoes from cloud to cloud each morn
And "It is post time" rings out clear
I will be ready with my gear;
My horse and I will not be late
(Though I'll be slightly overweight).
Then free from every mortal sin
We'll gallop through celestial fields
Where neither mist nor mud conceals
The graceful movements of the horse,
The wide and green and endless course.
Though some may think and I'll agree
That only God can make a tree,
Before God thought of trees, it's said,
His mind was on the Thoroughbred