pallas_athena: (tarot)
A Ballade of Theatricals
G. K. Chesterton

Though all the critics' canons grow--
Far seedier than the actors' own--
Although the cottage-door's too low--
Although the fairy's twenty stone--
Although, just like the telephone,
She comes by wire and not by wings,
Though all the mechanism's known--
Believe me, there are real things.

Yes, real people--even so--
Even in a theatre, truth is known,
Though the agnostic will not know,
And though the gnostic will not own,
There is a thing called skin and bone,
And many a man that struts and sings
Has been as stony-broke as stone . . .
Believe me, there are real things.

There is an hour when all men go;
An hour when man is all alone.
When idle minstrels in a row
Went down with all the bugles blown--
When brass and hymn and drum went down,
Down in death's throat with thunderings--
Ah, though the unreal things have grown,
Believe me, there are real things.

ENVOY.

Prince, though your hair is not your own
And half your face held on by strings,
And if you sat, you'd smash your throne--
--Believe me, there are real things.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Thus endeth CHESTERTON POETRY WEEKEND )

The Old Song
A livid sky on London
And like iron steeds that rear
A shock of engines halted
And I knew the end was near:
And something said that far away, over the hills and far away
There came a crawling thunder and the end of all things here.
For London Bridge is broken down, broken down, broken down,
As digging lets the daylight on the sunken streets of yore,
The lightning looked on London town, the broken bridge of London town,
The ending of a broken road where men shall go no more.


I saw the kings of London town,
The kings that buy and sell,
That built it up with penny loaves
And penny lies as well:
And where the streets were paved with gold the shrivelled paper shone for gold,
The scorching light of promises that pave the streets of hell.
For penny loaves will melt away, melt away, melt away,
Mock the men that haggled in the grain they did not grow;
With hungry faces in the gate, a hundred thousand in the gate,
A thunder-flash on London and the finding of the foe.


I heard the hundred pin-makers
Slow down their racking din,
Till in the stillness men could hear
The dropping of the pin:
And somewhere men without the wall, beneath the wood, without the wall,
Had found the place where London ends and England can begin.
For pins and needles bend and break, bend and break, bend and break,
Faster than the breaking spears or the bending of the bow,
Of pageants pale in thunder-light, 'twixt thunderload and thunderlight,
The Hundreds marching on the hills in the wars of long ago.


I saw great Cobbett riding,
The horseman of the shires;
And his face was red with judgement
And a light of Luddite fires:
And south to Sussex and the sea the lights leapt up for liberty,
The trumpet of the yeomanry, the hammer of the squires;
For bars of iron rust away, rust away, rust away,
Rend before the hammer and the horseman riding in,
Crying that all men at the last, and at the worst and at the last,
Have found the place where England ends and England can begin.


His horse-hoofs go before you
Far beyond your bursting tyres;
And time is bridged behind him
And our sons are with our sires.
A trailing meteor on the Downs he rides above the rotting towns,
The Horseman of Apocalypse, the Rider of the Shires.
For London Bridge is broken down, broken down, broken down;
Blow the horn of Huntington from Scotland to the sea -
...Only flash of thunder-light, a flying dream of thunder-light,
Had shown under the shattered sky a people that were free.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Thus endeth CHESTERTON POETRY WEEKEND )

The Old Song
A livid sky on London
And like iron steeds that rear
A shock of engines halted
And I knew the end was near:
And something said that far away, over the hills and far away
There came a crawling thunder and the end of all things here.
For London Bridge is broken down, broken down, broken down,
As digging lets the daylight on the sunken streets of yore,
The lightning looked on London town, the broken bridge of London town,
The ending of a broken road where men shall go no more.


I saw the kings of London town,
The kings that buy and sell,
That built it up with penny loaves
And penny lies as well:
And where the streets were paved with gold the shrivelled paper shone for gold,
The scorching light of promises that pave the streets of hell.
For penny loaves will melt away, melt away, melt away,
Mock the men that haggled in the grain they did not grow;
With hungry faces in the gate, a hundred thousand in the gate,
A thunder-flash on London and the finding of the foe.


I heard the hundred pin-makers
Slow down their racking din,
Till in the stillness men could hear
The dropping of the pin:
And somewhere men without the wall, beneath the wood, without the wall,
Had found the place where London ends and England can begin.
For pins and needles bend and break, bend and break, bend and break,
Faster than the breaking spears or the bending of the bow,
Of pageants pale in thunder-light, 'twixt thunderload and thunderlight,
The Hundreds marching on the hills in the wars of long ago.


I saw great Cobbett riding,
The horseman of the shires;
And his face was red with judgement
And a light of Luddite fires:
And south to Sussex and the sea the lights leapt up for liberty,
The trumpet of the yeomanry, the hammer of the squires;
For bars of iron rust away, rust away, rust away,
Rend before the hammer and the horseman riding in,
Crying that all men at the last, and at the worst and at the last,
Have found the place where England ends and England can begin.


His horse-hoofs go before you
Far beyond your bursting tyres;
And time is bridged behind him
And our sons are with our sires.
A trailing meteor on the Downs he rides above the rotting towns,
The Horseman of Apocalypse, the Rider of the Shires.
For London Bridge is broken down, broken down, broken down;
Blow the horn of Huntington from Scotland to the sea -
...Only flash of thunder-light, a flying dream of thunder-light,
Had shown under the shattered sky a people that were free.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I wasn't going to bother posting this one, because everyone knows it. But against my better judgement I have been to Garlic and Shots tonight, and now it seems weirdly apt. I therefore give you:

The Rolling English Road )
pallas_athena: (Default)
I wasn't going to bother posting this one, because everyone knows it. But against my better judgement I have been to Garlic and Shots tonight, and now it seems weirdly apt. I therefore give you:

The Rolling English Road )
pallas_athena: (Default)
The Myth of Arthur
O learned man who never learned to learn,
Save to deduce, by timid steps and small,
From towering smoke that fire can never burn
And from tall tales that men were never tall.
Say, have you thought what manner of man it is
Of whom men say "He could strike giants down"?
Or what strong memories over time's abyss
Bore up the pomp of Camelot and the crown.
And why one banner all the background fills,
Beyond the pageants of so many spears,
And by what witchery in the western hills
A throne stands empty for a thousand years.
Who hold, unheeding this immense impact,
Immortal story for a mortal sin;
Lest human fable touch historic fact,
Chase myths like moths, and fight them with a pin.
Take comfort; rest-- there needs not this ado.
You shall not be a myth, I promise you.
pallas_athena: (Default)
The Myth of Arthur
O learned man who never learned to learn,
Save to deduce, by timid steps and small,
From towering smoke that fire can never burn
And from tall tales that men were never tall.
Say, have you thought what manner of man it is
Of whom men say "He could strike giants down"?
Or what strong memories over time's abyss
Bore up the pomp of Camelot and the crown.
And why one banner all the background fills,
Beyond the pageants of so many spears,
And by what witchery in the western hills
A throne stands empty for a thousand years.
Who hold, unheeding this immense impact,
Immortal story for a mortal sin;
Lest human fable touch historic fact,
Chase myths like moths, and fight them with a pin.
Take comfort; rest-- there needs not this ado.
You shall not be a myth, I promise you.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Chesterton was a religious man, a mid-life convert to Roman Catholicism. Occasionally he can get a little bombastic with it, but often it lends his verse a certain supernatural light. Or, as here, a certain humour:
If I had been a heathen... )
pallas_athena: (Default)
Chesterton was a religious man, a mid-life convert to Roman Catholicism. Occasionally he can get a little bombastic with it, but often it lends his verse a certain supernatural light. Or, as here, a certain humour:
If I had been a heathen... )
pallas_athena: (Default)
Having tonight celebrated a friend's birthday by going to Paradise by way of Kensal Green, I hereby declare this G. K. CHESTERTON POETRY WEEKEND.

I went to Foyle's recently to look for some Chesterton poetry, but they had none at all. Apparently the Chesterton Society is doing an edition of the complete works, including poetry, although the first volume is mostly juvenilia. I'll probably pick it up anyway, but in the meantime there's plenty to be found on the web, notably at Wikisource.
And now, a Chestertonian riposte to anyone who quotes that ever-so-overdone Dorothy Parker poem:
A Ballade Of Suicide )
pallas_athena: (Default)
Having tonight celebrated a friend's birthday by going to Paradise by way of Kensal Green, I hereby declare this G. K. CHESTERTON POETRY WEEKEND.

I went to Foyle's recently to look for some Chesterton poetry, but they had none at all. Apparently the Chesterton Society is doing an edition of the complete works, including poetry, although the first volume is mostly juvenilia. I'll probably pick it up anyway, but in the meantime there's plenty to be found on the web, notably at Wikisource.
And now, a Chestertonian riposte to anyone who quotes that ever-so-overdone Dorothy Parker poem:
A Ballade Of Suicide )

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