The Old Huntsman (Doyle)

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The Old Huntsman
by Arthur Conan Doyle

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!