Greed and Dishonesty Not Out of Sight
This humorous narrative poem by Paterson tells the story of a dubious horse and shifty owners who dupe a naive jockey at a country racing event. Paterson utilizes his signature style of Australian bush poetry with rhyming couplets, slang, and ironic humor.
The poem begins by setting the scene at a small town polo competition, when two shady strangers arrive with a horse they claim can jump incredibly well. They convince an amateur rider that their horse will finish the steeplechase race “out of sight” ahead of the others.
However, Paterson reveals through sly humor that the horse, aptly named “Who’s Afraid” and “Panic,” is far from a winner. The clever locals predict trouble by dubbing the race the “Dude-in-Danger Cup.”
Sure enough, Who’s Afraid immediately balks and throws the overconfident jockey over a fence, removing him from sight – but not in the manner promised by the owners. Paterson’s ironic wordplay exposes their duplicity.
While seemingly just a simple folk tale, Paterson subtly criticizes greed and dishonesty, while celebrating the wisdom of the skeptical locals. Their humor in nicknaming the race hints at a community well aware of potential exploitation.
Paterson’s mastery is blending entertainment with insight into human nature. The poem’s humor, lively rhythm, and ironic language give it broad appeal. Ultimately, it warns against believing claims that seem too good to be true.
Out of Sight
They held a polo meeting at a little country town,
And all the local sportsmen came to win themselves renown.
There came two strangers with a horse, and I am much afraid
They both belonged to what is called “the take-you-down brigade”.
They said their horse could jump like fun, and asked an amateur
To ride him in the steeplechase, and told him they were sure,
The last time round, he’d sail away with such a swallow’s flight
The rest would never see him go—he’d finish out of sight.
So out he went; and, when folk saw the amateur was up,
Some local genius called the race “the Dude-in-Danger Cup”.
The horse was known as “Who’s Afraid”, by “Panic” from “The Fright”—
But still his owners told the jock he’d finish out of sight.
And so he did; for Who’s Afraid, without the least pretence,
Disposed of him by rushing through the very second fence;
And when they ran the last time round the prophecy was right—
For he was in the ambulance, and safely “out of sight”.