Andrew Barton Paterson ('Banjo')

Here you will find the Long Poem Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve of poet Andrew Barton Paterson ('Banjo')

Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve

You never heard tell of the story? 
Well, now, I can hardly believe! 
Never heard of the honour and glory 
Of Pardon, the son of Reprieve? 
But maybe you're only a Johnnie 
And don't know a horse from a hoe? 
Well, well, don't get angry, my sonny, 
But, really, a young un should know. 
They bred him out back on the "Never", 
His mother was Mameluke breed. 
To the front -- and then stay there - was ever 
The root of the Mameluke creed. 
He seemed to inherit their wiry 
Strong frames -- and their pluck to receive -- 
As hard as a flint and as fiery 
Was Pardon, the son of Reprieve. 

We ran him at many a meeting 
At crossing and gully and town, 
And nothing could give him a beating -- 
At least when our money was down. 
For weight wouldn't stop him, nor distance, 
Nor odds, though the others were fast; 
He'd race with a dogged persistence, 
And wear them all down at the last. 

At the Turon the Yattendon filly 
Led by lengths at the mile-and-a-half, 
And we all began to look silly, 
While her crowd were starting to laugh; 
But the old horse came faster and faster, 
His pluck told its tale, and his strength, 
He gained on her, caught her, and passed her, 
And won it, hands down, by a length. 

And then we swooped down on Menindie 
To run for the President's Cup; 
Oh! that's a sweet township -- a shindy 
To them is board, lodging, and sup. 
Eye-openers they are, and their system 
Is never to suffer defeat; 
It's "win, tie, or wrangle" -- to best 'em 
You must lose 'em, or else it's "dead heat". 

We strolled down the township and found 'em 
At drinking and gaming and play; 
If sorrows they had, why they drowned 'em, 
And betting was soon under way. 
Their horses were good uns and fit uns, 
There was plenty of cash in the town; 
They backed their own horses like Britons, 
And, Lord! how we rattled it down! 

With gladness we thought of the morrow, 
We counted our wages with glee, 
A simile homely to borrow -- 
"There was plenty of milk in our tea." 
You see we were green; and we never 
Had even a thought of foul play, 
Though we well might have known that the clever 
Division would "put us away". 

Experience docet, they tell us, 
At least so I've frequently heard; 
But, "dosing" or "stuffing", those fellows 
Were up to each move on the board: 
They got to his stall -- it is sinful 
To think what such villains will do -- 
And they gave him a regular skinful 
Of barley -- green barley -- to chew. 

He munched it all night, and we found him 
Next morning as full as a hog -- 
The girths wouldn't nearly meet round him; 
He looked like an overfed frog. 
We saw we were done like a dinner -- 
The odds were a thousand to one 
Against Pardon turning up winner, 
'Twas cruel to ask him to run. 

We got to the course with our troubles, 
A crestfallen couple were we; 
And we heard the " books" calling the doubles -- 
A roar like the surf of the sea. 
And over the tumult and louder 
Rang "Any price Pardon, I lay!" 
Says Jimmy, "The children of Judah 
Are out on the warpath today." 

Three miles in three heats: -- Ah, my sonny, 
The horses in those days were stout, 
They had to run well to win money; 
I don't see such horses about. 
Your six-furlong vermin that scamper 
Half-a-mile with their feather-weight up, 
They wouldn't earn much of their damper 
In a race like the President's Cup. 

The first heat was soon set a-going; 
The Dancer went off to the front; 
The Don on his quarters was showing, 
With Pardon right out of the hunt. 
He rolled and he weltered and wallowed -- 
You'd kick your hat faster, I'll bet; 
They finished all bunched, and he followed 
All lathered and dripping with sweat. 

But troubles came thicker upon us, 
For while we were rubbing him dry 
The stewards came over to warn us: 
"We hear you are running a bye! 
If Pardon don't spiel like tarnation 
And win the next heat -- if he can -- 
He'll earn a disqualification; 
Just think over that now, my man!" 

Our money all gone and our credit, 
Our horse couldn't gallop a yard; 
And then people thought that we did it 
It really was terribly hard. 
We were objects of mirth and derision 
To folks in the lawn and the stand, 
Anf the yells of the clever division 
Of "Any price Pardon!" were grand. 

We still had a chance for the money, 
Two heats remained to be run: 
If both fell to us -- why, my sonny, 
The clever division were done. 
And Pardon was better, we reckoned, 
His sickness was passing away, 
So we went to the post for the second 
And principal heat of the day. 

They're off and away with a rattle, 
Like dogs from the leashes let slip, 
And right at t