Part Two of our Poetry Podcast went live this morning (see the link at the bottom of this post).
More poetry, please! LW's Richard IV, our Sherlock Holmes expert, writes…
Poetry and a plug for a walk? It's got to be Conan Doyle, partly because his poetry is so little known! This one, from 1898, features a disturbing theme associating the inexorable pursuit by dogs with inevitable death… three years before he wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles.
THE OLD HUNTSMAN
There’s a keen and grim old huntsmanOn a horse as white as snow;Sometimes he is very swiftAnd sometimes he is slow.But he never is at fault,For he always hunts at viewAnd he rides without a haltAfter you.
The huntsman’s name is Death,His horse’s name is Time;He is coming, he is comingAs I sit and write this rhyme;He is coming, he is coming,As you read the rhyme I write;You can hear the hoofs’ low drummingDay and night.
You can hear the distant drummingAs the clock goes tick-a-tack,And the chiming of the hoursIs the music of his pack.You may hardly note their growlingUnderneath the noonday sun,But at night you hear them howlingAs they run.
And they never check or falterFor they never miss their kill;Seasons change and systems alter,But the hunt is running still.Hark! the evening chime is playing,O’er the long grey town it peals;Don’t you hear the death-hound bayingAt your heels?
Where is there an earth or burrow?Where a cover left for you?A year, a week, perhaps to-morrowBrings the Huntsman’s death halloo!Day by day he gains upon us,And the most that we can claimIs that when the hounds are on usWe die game.
And somewhere dwells the Master,By whom it was decreed;He sent the savage huntsman,He bred the snow-white steed.These hounds which run for ever,He set them on your track;He hears you scream, but neverCalls them back.
He does not heed our suing,We never see his face;He hunts to our undoing,We thank him for the chase.We thank him and we flatter,We hope - because we must -But have we cause? No matter!Let us trust!
Richard IV is an actor, swordsman and an expert on early detective fiction. Velvety voiced and perfect timing, he makes for some awfully handsome listening! No surprise to learn that he's narrated numerous documentaries and audiobooks.
POST UPDATED 2/3/16
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.