Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Ballad of the White Horse.

This is a small excerpt from "The Ballad of the White Horse" by G. K. Chesterton, one of my favorite authors. The ballad tells the tale of Alfred, a Christian king, who was charged with the heavy task of turning away the invading pagans from England. This particular passage captures how I'm feeling right now; like during the battle of Christendom when all fortune had turned ill and hope stood on the brink.

"But heavier fates have fallen
The horn of the Wessex kings,
And I blew once, the riding sign,
To call you to the fighting line
And glory and all good things.

"And now two blasts, the hunting sign,
Because we turn to bay;
But I will not blow the three blasts,
Till we be lost or they.

"And now I blow the hunting sign,
Charge some by rule and rod;
But when I blow the battle sign,
Charge all and go to God."

Wild stared the Danes at the double ways
Where they loitered, all at large,
As that dark line for the last time
Doubled the knee to charge--

And caught their weapons clumsily,
And marvelled how and why--
In such degree, by rule and rod,
The people of the peace of God
Went roaring down to die.

And when the last arrow
Was fitted and was flown,
When the broken shield hung on the breast,
And the hopeless lance was laid in rest,
And the hopeless horn blown,

The King looked up, and what he saw
Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

One instant in a still light
He saw Our Lady then,
Her dress was soft as western sky,
And she was a queen most womanly--
But she was a queen of men.


"The Mother of God goes over them,
Walking on wind and flame,
And the storm-cloud drifts from city and dale,
And the White Horse stamps in the White Horse Vale,
And we all shall yet drink Christian ale
In the village of our name.


Christopher J said...

I think my favorite section is the vignette about the little boy playing on the white stones and pulling the weeds--describing how Alfred differs from the other warriors by being child-like.

Anonymous said...

Our Lady stands in the grottos in the hills of Kentucky and watches all who labor there and in a special way remembers her own Son who once worked with wood as a young man too. She then prays for all the laborers.

John said...

Interesting...I was just thinking this morning that I think you need to become the next Chesterton. The world needs one.