The Complete Sherlock Holmes (2 Volumes) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Said the king to the colonel,
'The complaints are eternal,
That you Irish give more trouble
Than any other corps.'

Said the colonel to the king,
'This complaint is no new thing,
For your foemen, sire,
have made it A hundred times before.'

There's a keen and grim old huntsman
On a horse as white as snow;
Sometimes he is very swift
And sometimes he is slow.
But he never is at fault,
For he always hunts at view
And he rides without a halt
After you.

The huntsman's name is Death,
His horse's name is Time;
He is coming, he is coming
As I sit and write this rhyme;
He is coming, he is coming,
As you read the rhyme I write;
You can hear the hoof's low drumming
Day and night.

You can hear the distant drumming
As the clock goes tick-a-tack,
And the chiming of the hours
Is the music of his pack.
You may hardly note their growling
Underneath the noonday sun,
But at night you hear them howling
As they run.

And they never check or falter
For 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 baying
At your heels?

Where is there an earth or burrow?
Where a cover left for you?
A year, a week, perhaps to-morrow
Brings the Huntsman's death halloo!
Day by day he gains upon us,
And the most that we can claim
Is that when the hounds are on us
We 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 never
Calls 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!

It was the hour of dawn,
When the heart beats thin and small,
The window glimmered grey,
Framed in a shadow wall.

And in the cold sad light
Of the early morningtide,
The dear dead girl came back
And stood by his beside.

The girl he lost came back:
He saw her flowing hair;
It flickered and it waved
Like a breath in frosty air.

As in a steamy glass,
Her face was dim and blurred;
Her voice was sweet and thin,
Like the calling of a bird.

'You said that you would come,
You promised not to stay;
And I have waited here,
To help you on the way.

'I have waited on,
But still you bide below;
You said that you would come,
And oh, I want you so!

'For half my soul is here,
And half my soul is there,
When you are on the earth
And I am in the air.

'But on your dressing-stand
There lies a triple key;
Unlock the little gate
Which fences you from me.

'Just one little pang,
Just one throb of pain,
And then your weary head
Between my breasts again.'

In the dim unhomely light
Of the early morningtide,
He took the triple key
And he laid it by his side.

A pistol, silver chased,
An open hunting knife,
A phial of the drug
Which cures the ill of life.

He looked upon the three,
And sharply drew his breath:
'Now help me, oh my love,
For I fear this cold grey death.'

She bent her face above,
She kissed him and she smiled;
She soothed him as a mother
May sooth a frightened child.

'Just that little pang, love,
Just a throb of pain,
And then your weary head
Between my breasts again.'

He snatched the pistol up,
He pressed it to his ear;
But a sudden sound broke in,
And his skin was raw with fear.

He took the hunting knife,
He tried to raise the blade;
It glimmered cold and white,
And he was sore afraid.

He poured the potion out,
But it was thick and brown;
His throat was sealed against it,
And he could not drain it down.

He looked to her for help,
And when he looked -- behold!
His love was there before him
As in the days of old.

He saw the drooping head,
He saw the gentle eyes;
He saw the same shy grace of hers
He had been wont to prize.

She pointed and she smiled,
And lo! he was aware
Of a half-lit bedroom chamber
And a silent figure there.

A silent figure lying
A-sprawl upon a bed,
With a silver-mounted pistol
Still clotted to his head.

And as he downward gazed,
Her voice came full and clear,
The homely tender voice
Which he had loved to hear:

'The key is very certain,
The door is sealed to none.
You did it, oh, my darling!
And you never knew it done.

'When the net was broken,
You thought you felt its mesh;
You carried to the spirit
The troubles of the flesh.

'And are you trembling still, dear?
Then let me take your hand;
And I will lead you outward
To a sweet and restful land.

'You know how once in London
I put my griefs on you;
But I can carry yours now--
Most sweet it is to do!

'Most sweet it is to do, love,
And very sweet to plan
How I, the helpless woman,
Can help the helpful man.

'But let me see you smiling
With the smile I know so well;
Forget the world of shadows,
And the empty broken shell.

'It is the worn-out garment
In which you tore a rent;
You tossed it down, and carelessly
Upon your way you went.

'It is not you, my sweetheart,
For you are here with me.
That frame was but the promise of
The thing that was to be--

'A tuning of the choir
Ere the harmonies begin;
And yet it is the image
Of the subtle thing within.

'There's not a trick of body,
There's not a trait of mind,
But you bring it over with you,
Ethereal, refined,

'But still the same; for surely
If we alter as we die,
You would be you no longer,
And I would not be I.

'I might be an angel,
But not the girl you knew;
You might be immaculate,
But that would not be you.

'And now I see you smiling,
So, darling, take my hand;
And I will lead you outward
To a sweet and pleasant land,

'Where thought is clear and nimble,
Where life is pure and fresh,
Where the soul comes back rejoicing
From the mud-bath of the flesh

'But still that soul is human,
With human ways, and so
I love my love in spirit,
As I loved him long ago.'

So with hands together
And fingers twining tight,
The two dead lovers drifted
In the golden morning light.

But a grey-haired man was lying
Beneath them on a bed,
With a silver-mounted pistol
Still clotted to his head.

1.9k
Master

Master went a-hunting,
When the leaves were falling;
We saw him on the bridle path,
We heard him gaily calling.

'Oh master, master, come you back,
For I have dreamed a dream so black!'
A glint of steel from bit and heel,
The chestnut cantered faster;
A red flash seen amid the green,
And so good-bye to master.

Master came from hunting,
Two silent comrades bore him;
His eyes were dim, his face was white,
The mare was led before him.

'Oh, master, master, is it thus
That you have come again to us?'
I held my lady's ice-cold hand,
They bore the hurdle past her;
Why should they go so soft and slow?
It matters not to master.

Men of the Twenty-first
Up by the Chalk Pit Wood,
Weak with our wounds and our thirst,
Wanting our sleep and our food,
After a day and a night --
God, shall we ever forget!
Beaten and broke in the fight,
But sticking it -- sticking it yet.
Trying to hold the line,
Fainting and spent and done,
Always the thud and the whine,
Always the yell of the Hun!
Northumerland, Lancaster, York,
Durham and Somerset,
Fighting alone, worn to the bone,
But sticking it -- sticking it yet.

Never a message of hope!
Never a word of cheer!
Fronting Hill 70's shell-swept slope,
With the dull dead plain in our rear.
Always the whine of the shell,
Always the roar of its burst,
Always the tortures of hell,
As waiting and wincing we cursed
Our luck and the guns and the Boche,
When our Corporal shouted, "Stand to!"
And I heard some one cry, "Clear the front for the Guards!"
And the Guards came through.

Our throats they were parched and hot,
But Lord, if you'd heard the cheers!
Irish and Welsh and Scot,
Coldstream and Grenadiers.
Two brigades, if you please,
Dressing as straight as a hem,
We -- we were down on our knees,
Praying for us and for them!
Lord, I could speak for a week,
But how could you understand!
How should your cheeks be wet,
Such feelin's don't come to you.
But when can me or my mates forget,
When the Guards came through?

"Five yards left extend!"
It passed from rank to rank.
Line after line with never a bend,
And a touch of the London swank.
A trifle of swank and dash,
Cool as a home parade,
Twinkle and glitter and flash,
Flinching never a shade,
With the shrapnel right in their face
Doing their Hyde Park stunt,
Keeping their swing at an easy pace,
Arms at the trail, eyes front!

Man, it was great to see!
Man, it was fine to do!
It's a cot and a hospital ward for me,
But I'll tell'em in Blighty, whereever I be,
How the Guards came through.

Put the saddle on the mare,
For the wet winds blow;
There's winter in the air,
And autumn all below.
For the red leaves are flying
And the red bracken dying,
And the red fox lying
Where the oziers grow.

Put the bridle on the mare,
For my blood runs chill;
And my heart, it is there,
On the heather-tufted hill,
With the gray skies o'er us,
And the long-drawn chorus
Of a running pack before us
From the find to the kill.

Then lead round the mare,
For it's time that we began,
And away with thought and care,
Save to live and be a man,
While the keen air is blowing,
And the huntsman holloing,
And the black mare going
As the black mare can.

A sportin' death! My word it was!
An' taken in a sportin' way.
Mind you, I wasn't there to see;
I only tell you what they say.

They found that day at Shillinglee,
An' ran 'im down to Chillinghurst;
The fox was goin' straight an' free
For ninety minutes at a burst.

They 'ad a check at Ebernoe
An' made a cast across the Down,
Until they got a view 'ullo
An' chased i'm up to Kirdford town.

From Kirdford 'e run Bramber way,
An' took 'em over 'alf the Weald.
If you 'ave tried the Sussex clay,
You'll guess it weeded out the field.

Until at last I don't suppose
As 'arf a dozen, at the most,
Came safe to where the grassland goes
Switchbackin' southwards to the coast.

Young Captain 'Eadley, 'e was there,
And Jim the whip an' Percy Day;
The Purcells an' Sir Charles Adair,
An' this 'ere gent from London way.

For 'e 'ad gone amazin' fine,
Two 'undred pounds between 'is knees;
Eight stone he was, an' rode at nine,
As light an' limber as you please.

'E was a stranger to the 'Unt,
There weren't a person as 'e knew there;
But 'e could ride, that London gent--
'E sat 'is mare as if 'e grew there.

They seed the 'ounds upon the scent,
But found a fence across their track,
And 'ad to fly it; else it meant
A turnin' and a 'arkin' back.

'E was the foremost at the fence,
And as 'is mare just cleared the rail
He turned to them that rode be'ind,
For three was at 'is very tail.

'Ware 'oles!' says 'e, an' with the word,
Still sittin' easy on his mare,
Down, down 'e went, an' down an' down,
Into the quarry yawnin' there.

Some say it was two 'undred foot;
The bottom lay as black as ink.
I guess they 'ad some ugly dreams,
Who reined their 'orses on the brink.

'E'd only time for that one cry;
''Ware 'oles!' says 'e, an' saves all three.
There may be better deaths to die,
But that one's good enough for me.

For mind you, 'twas a sportin' end,
Upon a right good sportin' day;
They think a deal of 'im down 'ere,
That gent what came from London way.

1.7k
A Parable

The cheese-mites asked how the cheese got there,
And warmly debated the matter;
The Orthodox said that it came from the air,
And the Heretics said from the platter.
They argued it long and they argued it strong,
And I hear they are arguing now;
But of all the choice spirits who lived in the cheese,
Not one of them thought of a cow.

[Being an humble address to Her Majesty's Naval advisers, who sold Nelson's old flagship to the Germans for a thousand pounds.]

            WHO says the Nation's purse is lean,
            Who fears for claim or bond or debt,
            When all the glories that have been
            Are scheduled as a cash asset?
            If times are bleak and trade is slack,
            If coal and cotton fail at last,
            We've something left to barter yet--
            Our glorious past.
            
            There's many a crypt in which lies hid
            The dust of statesman or of king;
            There's Shakespeare's home to raise a bid,
            And Milton's house its price would bring.
            What for the sword that Cromwell drew?
            What for Prince Edward's coat of mail?
            What for our Saxon Alfred's tomb?
            They're all for sale!
            
            And stone and marble may be sold
            Which serve no present daily need;
            There's Edward's Windsor, labelled old,
            And Wolsey's palace, guaranteed.
            St. Clement Danes and fifty fanes,
            The Tower and the Temple grounds;
            How much for these? Just price them, please,
            In British pounds.
            
            You hucksters, have you still to learn,
            The things which money will not buy?
            Can you not read that, cold and stern
            As we may be, there still does lie
            Deep in our hearts a hungry love
            For what concerns our island story?
            We sell our work -- perchance our lives,
            But not our glory.
            
            Go barter to the knacker's yard
            The steed that has outlived its time!
            Send hungry to the pauper ward
            The man who served you in his prime!
            But when you touch the Nation's store,
            Be broad your mind and tight your grip.
            Take heed! And bring us back once more
            Our Nelson's ship.
            
            And if no mooring can be found
            In all our harbours near or far,
            Then tow the old three-decker round
            To where the deep-sea soundings are;
            There, with her pennon flying clear,
            And with her ensign lashed peak high,
            Sink her a thousand fathoms sheer.
            There let her lie!

— The End —