Roderic Quinn

1867 - 1949 / Australia

The Black Hound

WHITE-TOOTHED is the Black Hound,
And ever, as he comes after,
There is no sweetness in wine,
Nor is there joyance in laughter.
Red-tongued is the Black Hound,
And ever, as he speeds baying,
There is no shaking him off,
Nor is there stopping or staying.
Keen-sensed in the thick dark
He follows for ever and ever;
Nought stays him in his pursuit —
Nor marsh, nor mountain, nor river.
Day-long through the broad light,
His tongue like a flame outleaping,
He hunts; and we fly before,
Wan-faced, foot-weary and weeping.
Night-through in the still hours
When stars in the sky assemble,
We hear his cry on the roads,
And startled, staring, we tremble.
White-toothed is the Black Hound,
And speed to his limbs is given;
God help and pity us all
Who fly for ever, hard-driven!
Time comes when the feet fail
Or drag on the ways, unwilling;
Then fast, froth-flakes on his jaws,
He speeds keen-fanged to the killing.
Then some, as they pass, say —
Few pausing, and weeping, fewer —
'Hound-work is this that we see,
Fang-work of him, the Pursuer!'
Black Care is the Black Hound,
And ever 'tis his to follow
Pale men from birth to that hour
When grave-mouths open and swallow.
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