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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

Farewell To My "Steed."

Farewell To My "Steed."

In the days when I was younger, when I never knew your worth;
When I thought a prancing palfrey was the finest thing on earth;
When a ride upon a camel seemed a punishment for sin,
And made a man feel fed up with the land we're living in:
It was then my errant fancy lightly turned to thoughts of verse,
And I libelled you, old Hoosta, in a wild iambic curse. I know you now for better; but for you I might be dead.
So I recant, old Hoosta, I take back all I said.

You have borne me late and early o'er the sands of Sinai,
When the Khamseen lashed our faces and our water-bags were dry.
And in the long night marches, when I dozed and dropped the rein,
You somehow found the pathway, and you lobbed in camp again.
All through the mud and slush and mire of rain-soaked Palestine
You struggled like a hero. Now all gratitude is mine.
I once hurled maledicatious at your supercilious head —
I'm sorry now, old Hoosta, I take back all I said.

When winter nights were freezing on the hills of old Judaea,
You humped my load of blankets and a ton of surplus gear.
When Summer's sun was scorching and my head seemed like to burst,
You bore a full fantassie, and quenched my raging thirst.
I have never yet gone hungry, I have never yet gone dry;
That's something to your credit in a place like Sinai.
You have been my board and lodging, you even humped my bed—
Honest Injun! Oont, I'm grateful, I take back all I've said

Once more I'll feel the thrill that only horses give to man,
As I canter gaily onward from Beersheba unto Dan.
I'll sense the dawn-wind's message and the mystery of the stars,
And hear again the music of the bit and snaffle-bars.
So it's farewell now, old Hoosta, our paths diverge from here;
I have got to be a Horseman now, and not a Camelier.
You were smelful, you were ugly. Now I've got a horse instead.
Still you had the camel virtues, so I take back all I've said.