Poem: To a Lady

Light of the young, before you have grown old
The world will have grown weary of its youth,
All its cheap charity and loose-lipped truth,
And passion that goes naked—and grows cold.

Tire of a pity so akin to hate,
Turn on a truth that is so near to treason,
When Time, the god of traitors, in their season
Marks down for dated all the up-to-date.

Then shall men know by the great grace you are,
How something better than blind fear or blunder
Bade us stand back, where we could watch with wonder,
Ladies like landscapes, very fair and far.

A crowd shall call your high estranged face,
A mask of blind reaction and resistance,
Because you have made large the world with distance,
As God made large the universe with space.

Yet beautiful your feet upon the mountains,
Moving in soundless music shall return,
And they that look into your eyes shall learn—
Having forced up the secret sea in fountains.

And having vulgarised infinity,
And splashed their brains against the starry steeps,
In what unfathomable inward deeps
Dwells the last mystery men call Liberty.

When they shall say we scorned and held in thrall
Spirits like yours; the mother of the tribe
Slandered, a slave, a butt for slur and gibe,
You shall confound the one great slur of all.

The one great slander answered long ago
By Her that hid all things within her heart,
One speaking when the veil was rent apart,
"Women alone can keep a secret so."

~G.K. Chesterton

Poem: To the Unknown Warrior

You whom the kings saluted; who refused not
The one great gesture of ignoble days,
Fame without name and glory without gossip,
Whom no biographer befouls with praise.

Who said of you "Defeated"? In the darkness
The dug-out where the limelight never comes,
Nor the big drum of Barnum's Show can shatter
That vibrant stillness after all the drums.

Though the time come when every Yankee circus
Can use our soldiers for its sandwich-men,
When those that pay the piper call the tune,
You will not dance. You will not move again.

You will not march for Fatty Arbuckle,
Though he have yet a favourable press,
Tender as San Francisco to St. Francis,
Or all the Angels of Los Angeles.

They shall not storm the last unfallen fortress,
The lonely castle where uncowed and free
Dwells the unknown and undefeated warrior
That did alone defeat Publicity.

~G.K. Chesterton

Poem: The Battle of the Stories (1915)

In the Caucasus.

They came uncounted like the stars like the stars that circle or are set,
They circled and they caught us as in a sparkling casting-net
We burst it in the mountain gate where all the guns began,
When the snow stood up at Christmas on the hills of Ardahan.
The guns—and not a bell to tell that God was made a man—
But we did all remember, though all the world forget.

Before Paris.

The kings came over the olden Rhine to break an ancient debt,
We took their rush at the river of death in the fields where we first met,
And far beyond them, like a bird, Maunoury’s bugle call:
And there were not kings or debts or doubts or anything at all
But the People that remembers and the peoples that forget.

In Flanders.

Empty above your bleating hordes his throne abides the threat,
Who drew the sword of his despair to front your butcher’s bet:
You shall scan the empty scabbard; you shall search the empty seat.
While he along the ruined skies rides royal with retreat,
In the judgment and the silence and the grass upon the street.
And the oath the heavens remember and you would fain forget.

In Poland.

A cloud was on the face of God when three kings met,
What hour the worst of men were made the sun hath suffered yet.
We knew them in their nibbling peace or ever they went to war.
In petty school and pilfered field we know them what they are.
And we drank the cup of anguish to the pardon of the Czar,
To the nations that remember and the empires that forget.

In the Dardanelles.

To the horned mount of the high Mahound of moon and of minaret.
Labouring go the sieging trains whose track are blood and sweat.
The ships break in a sanguine sea; and far to the front a boy
Fallen, and his face flung back to shout with the Son of God for joy.
And the long land under the lifted smoke; and a great light on Troy,
And all that men remember and madmen can forget.

In the Balkans.

They thrice on crags of death were dry and thrice in Danube wet
To prove an old man’s heart was empty of regret,
For the Turks have taken his city’s soul: his spurs of gold are dross,
And the Crescent hangs upon him while we hang upon the Cross.
But we heave our tower of pride upon Kosovo of the loss,
For a proof that we remember and the infidels forget.

In the Alps.

Master of Arts and mastery of arms, master of all things yet,
For the musket as for the mandolin the master fingers fret;
The news to the noise of the mandolin that all the world comes home,
And the young are young and the years return and the days of kingdom come.
When the wars wearied, and the tribes turned; and the sun rose on Rome,
And all that Rome remembers when all her realms forget.

In the North Sea.

Though the seas were sewn with the new dragons that knew not what they ate,
We broke St. George’s banner out to the black wind and the wet,
He hath broken all the bridges we could fling, the world and we,
But the bridge of death in heaven that His people might be free,
That we straddled for the saddle of the riders of the sea.
For St. George that shall remember if the Dragon shall forget.

All the Voices.

Behold, we are men of many lands, in the motley seasons set,
From Riga to the rock of Spain, from Orkney to Olivet,
Who stand up in the council in the turning of the year,
And, standing, give the judgment on the evil house of fear;
Knowing the End shall write again what we have written here,
On the day when God remembers and no man can forget.

~G.K. Chesterton


Poem: Broad Minded Bishop Rebukes the Verminous St. Francis

If Brother Francis pardoned Brother Flea,
There still seems need of such strange charity,
Seeing he is, for all his gay goodwill,
Bitten by funny little creatures still.

~G.K. Chesterton


Poem: The Port of London Authority


We whom great mercy holds in fear,
Boast not the claim to cry,
Stricken of any mortal wrong,
“Lord, let this live man die!”

But not incuriously we ask,
Pondering on life and death,
What name befits that round of years,
What name that span of breath.

That perfect dullness counting hands
That have no man or woman,
That fullness of the commonplace
That can despise the common.

That startling smallness that can stop
The breath like an abyss,
As, staring at rows of noughts, we cry,
“And men grow old for this!”

The thing that sniggers when it sneers,
That never can forget,
The billycock outshines the cap,
And then—the coronet!

O mighty to arise and smite,
O mightier to forgive,
Sunburst that blasted Lazarus,
Lord, let this dead man live!

~G.K. Chesterton

"The Christian ideal"

"THE great ideals of the past failed not by being outlived (which must mean over-lived), but by not being lived enough. Mankind has not passed through the Middle Ages. Rather mankind has retreated from the Middle Ages in reaction and rout. The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."

~G.K. Chesterton: What's Wrong With the World.


"A divine company and a divine captain"

"OF all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within. Any one who knows any body knows how it would work; any one who knows any one from the Higher Thought Centre knows how it does work. That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones. Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners."

~G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy.