Desolate Davidstow Moor

Oil on Board | 12 x 19 inches

“It was awful weather at the meet, the rain coming in almost horizontally and bitterly cold. Somehow I managed to get some good photographs to work from. I wrote this poem to remind me of the day:

Winds through the fir trees wailed and roared,
Mist came down and the rain it poured;
And puddled up the sodden moors.
Sheep in the meadows graze away
Beside the belted Galloways
Who spend their whole lives out of doors
On desolate Davidstow Moor

Upon the moors on a wet Boxing Day,
Along a lane just off the highway
Arrives the throng of hunting folk
Wearing gaiters and raincoats
Warm scarves wrapped around their throats
Grimace under the skies’ grey cloak
On desolate Davidstow Moor

Clipped out horses are saddled up,
Polished boots in shining stirrup;
The riders gather on the grass-
And talk hunting and racing
Backs to the wind they’re bracing
All hoping the weather will pass
On desolate Davidstow Moor

The master astride his dark bay,
Whip in hand, ready for the fray;
The Whipper-in gathers each hound.
Perched on his saddle he yells his speech,
Riding cap aloft, high as he can reach,
His cries echoing all around
Desolate Davidstow Moor

On the last word he blows his horn
So this hunting day is born!
They all set off, the hounds in front,
Each rider on their trusty steed,
Cantering away and gaining speed,
Muds flings from hooves bearing the brunt
Of desolate Davidstow Moor

Wind like a knife cuts you in two,
A squall of sleet turns lips to blue,
The horses never refuse or care
And take the biggest stone wall,
Without a thought of a fall,
Landing each jump with a yard to spare!
On desolate Davidstow Moor

4 o’clock on Boxing Day noon,
Rain falls soft under a young moon;
Never such rain on a hunt before
All soaked to skin and weary,
Still force a grin and are bleary,
Think of hunting days of yore
On desolate Davidstow Moor

Muddy breeches hung up to dry,
In their beds they peacefully lie
And lull to the days delights,
With visions of horses in dreams,
Pirouette in silvery moonbeams,
Dreaming of hunting all night
On desolate Davidstow Moor.”

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