G. K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton.

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Whirled by the shrieking steeds of flood and fire ?

Or must Fate act the same grey farce again,

And wait, till one, amid Time's wrecks and scars,

Speaks to a ruin here, ' What poet-race
Shot such cyclopean arches at the stars ? '
50



THE HUMAN TREE



THE HUMAN TREE

MANY have Earth's lovers been,
Tried in seas and wars, I ween ;
Yet the mightiest have I seen :

Yea, the best saw I.
One that in a field alone
Stood up stiller than a stone

Lest a moth should fly.

Birds had nested in his hair,
On his shoon were mosses rare,
Insect empires flourished there,

Worms in ancient wars ;
But his eyes burn like a glass,
Hearing a great sea of grass

Roar towards the stars.



THE HUMAN TREE

From them to the human tree

Rose a cry continually,

* Thou art still, our Father, we

Fain would have thee nod.
Make the skies as blood below thee,
Though thou slay us, we shall know thee.

Answer us, O God !

4 Show thine ancient fame and thunder,
Split the stillness once asunder,
Lest we whisper, lest we wonder

Art thou there at all ? '
But I saw him there alone,
Standing stiller than a stone

Lest a moth should fall.



TO THEM THAT MOURN



TO THEM THAT MOURN

(W. E. G., May 1898)

LIFT up your heads : in life, in death,
God knoweth his head was high.

Quit we the coward's broken breath
Who v/atched a strong man die.

If we must say, ' No more his peer
Cometh ; the flag is furled.'

Stand not too near him, lest he hear
That slander on the world.

The good green earth he loved and trod

Is still, with many a scar,
Writ in the chronicles of God,

A giant- bearing star.

53



TO THEM THAT MOURN

He fell : but Britain's banner swings

Above his sunken crown.
Black death shall have his toll of kings

Before that cross goes down.

Once more shall move with mighty things

His house of ancient tale,
Where kings whose hands were kissed of kings

Went in : and came out pale.

O young ones of a darker day,

In art's wan colours clad,
Whose very love and hate are grey

Whose very sin is sad,

Pass on : one agony long-drawn

Was merrier than your mirth,
When hand-in-hand came death and dawn,

And spring was on the earth.
54



THE OUTLAW



THE OUTLAW

PRIEST, is any song-bird stricken ?

Is one leaf less on the tree ?
Is this wine less red and royal

That the hangman waits for me ?

He upon your cross that hangeth,

It is writ of priestly pen,
On the night they built His gibbet,

Drank red wine among His men.

Quaff, like a brave man, as He did,
Wine and death as heaven pours

This is my fate : O ye rulers,
O ye pontiffs, what is yours ?
55



THE OUTLAW

To wait trembling, lest yon loathly
Gallows-shape whereon I die,

In strange temples yet unbuilded,
Blaze upon an altar high.



BEHIND



BEHIND

I SAW an old man like a child,
His blue eyes bright, his white hair wild,
Who turned for ever, and might not stop,
Round and round like an urchin's top.

* Fool,' I cried, c while you spin round,
'Others grow wise, are praised, are crowned.'
Ever the same round road he trod,

* This is better : I seek for God.'

1 We see the whole world, left and right,
c Yet at the blind back hides from sight
c The unseen Master that drives us forth
' To East and West, to South and North.

57



BEHIND



' Over my shoulder for eighty years

I have looked for the gleam of the sphere of spheres.'

4 In all your turning, what have you found ? '

c At least, I know why the world goes round.'



THE END OF FEAR



THE END OF FEAR

THOUGH the whole heaven be one-eyed with the moon,
Though the dead landscape seem a thing possessed,
Yet I go singing through that land oppressed

As one that singeth through the flowers of June.

No more, with forest-fingers crawling free
O'er dark flint wall that seems a wall of eyes,
Shall evil break my soul with mysteries

Of some world-poison maddening bush and tree.

No more shall leering ghosts of pimp and king
With bloody secrets veiled before me stand.
Last night I held all evil in my hand

Closed : and behold it was a little thing.

59



THE END OF FEAR

I broke the infernal gates and looked on him
Who fronts the strong creation with a curse ;
Even the god of a lost universe,

Smiling above his hideous cherubim.

And pierced far down in his soul's crypt unriven
The last black crooked sympathy and shame,
And hailed him with that ringing rainbow name

Erased upon the oldest book in heaven.

Like emptied idiot masks, sin's loves and wars
Stare at me now : for in the night I broke
The bubble of a great world's jest, and woke

Laughing with laughter such as shakes the stars.



60



THE HOLY OF HOLIES



THE HOLY OF HOLIES

' ELDER father, though thine eyes
Shine with hoary mysteries,
Canst thou tell what in the heart
Of a cowslip blossom lies ?

' Smaller than all lives that be,
Secret as the deepest sea,
Stands a little house of seeds,
Like an elfin's granary.

' Speller of the stones and weeds,
Skilled in Nature's crafts and creeds,
Tell me what is in the heart
Of the smallest of the seeds.'
61



THE HOLY OF HOLIES

'God Almighty, and with Him
Cherubim and Seraphim,
Filling all eternity
Adonai Elohim.'



62



THE MIRROR OF MADMEN



THE MIRROR OF MADMEN

I DREAMED a dream of heaven, white as frost,
The splendid stillness of a living host ;
Vast choirs of upturned faces, line o'er line.
Then my blood froze ; for every face was mine.

Spirits with sunset plumage throng and pass,
Glassed darkly in the sea of gold and glass.
But still on every side, in every spot,
I saw a million selves, who saw me not.

I fled to quiet wastes, where on a stone,
Perchance, I found a saint, who sat alone ;
I came behind : he turned with slow, sweet grace,
And faced me with my happy, hateful face.

63



THE MIRROR OF MADMEN

I cowered like one that in a tower doth bide,
Shut in by mirrors upon every side ;
Then I saw, islanded in skies alone
And silent, one that sat upon a throne.

His robe was bordered with rich rose and gold,
Green, purple, silver out of sunsets old ;
But o'er his face a great cloud edged with fire,
Because it covereth the world's desire.

But as I gazed, a silent worshipper,
Methought the cloud began to faintly stir ;
Then I fell flat, and screamed with grovelling head,
c If thou hast any lightning, strike me dead !

4 But spare a brow where the clean sunlight fell,
The crown of a new sin that sickens hell.
Let me not look aloft and see mine own
Feature and form upon the Judgment-throne.'



THE MIRROR OF MADMEN

Then my dream snapped : and with a heart that leapt

I saw across the tavern where I slept,

The sight of all my life most full of grace,

A gin-damned drunkard's wan half-witted face.



E. C. B.



E. C. B.

BEFORE the grass grew over me,

I knew one good man through and through,
And knew a soul and body joined

Are stronger than the heavens are blue.

A wisdom worthy of thy joy,

great heart, read I as I ran ;
Now, though men smite me on the face,

1 cannot curse the face of man.

I loved the man I saw yestreen

Hanged with his babe's blood on his palms.
I loved the man I saw to-day

Who knocked not when he came with alms.
66



E. C. B.

Hush ! for thy sake I even faced

The knowledge that is worse than hell ;

And loved the man I saw but now

Hanging head downwards in the well.



THE DESECRATERS



THE DESECRATERS

WITNESS all : that unrepenting,
Feathers flying, music high,

I go down to death unshaken
By your mean philosophy.

For your wages, take my body,
That at least to you I leave ;

Set the sulky plumes upon it,

Bid the grinning mummers grieve.

Stand in silence : steep your raiment
In the night that hath no star ;

Don the mortal dress of devils,
Blacker than their spirits are.
68



THE DESECRATERS

Since ye may not, of your mercy,
Ere I lie on such a hearse,

Hurl me to the living jackals
God hath built for sepulchres.



AN ALLIANCE



AN ALLIANCE

THIS is the weird of a world-old folk,

That not till the last link breaks,
Not till the night is blackest,

The blood of Hengist wakes.
When the sun is black in heaven,

The moon as blood above,
And the earth is full of hatred,

This people tells its love.

In change, eclipse, and peril,
Under the whole world's scorn,

By blood and death and darkness
The Saxon peace is sworn ;
70



AN ALLIANCE

That all our fruit be gathered,
And all our race take hands,

And the sea be a Saxon river
That runs through Saxon lands.

Lo ! not in vain we bore him ;

Behold it ! not in vain,
Four centuries' dooms of torture

Choked in the throat of Spain,
Ere priest or tyrant triumph

We know how well we know-
Bone of that bone can whiten,

Blood of that blood can flow.



Deep grows the hate of kindred,
Its roots take hold on hell ;

No peace or praise can heal it,
But a stranger heals it well.



AN ALLIANCE

Seas shall be red as sunsets,

And kings' bones float as foam,

And heaven be dark with vultures,
The night our son comes home.



72



THE ANCIENT OF DAYS



THE ANCIENT OF DAYS

A CHILD sits in a sunny place,

Too happy for a smile,
And plays through one long holiday

With balls to roll and pile ;
A painted wind-mill by his side

Runs like a merry tune,
But the sails are the four great winds of heaven,

And the balls are the sun and moon.

A staring doll's-house shows to him

Green floors and starry rafter,
And many-coloured graven dolls

Live for his lonely laughter.

73



THE ANCIENT OF DAYS

The dolls have crowns and aureoles,
Helmets and horns and wings,

For they are the saints and seraphim,
The prophets and the kings.



74



THE LAST MASQUERADE



THE LAST MASQUERADE

A WAN new garment of young green

Touched, as you turned your soft brown hair ;
And in me surged the strangest prayer

Ever in lover's heart hath been.

That I who saw your youth's bright page,
A rainbow change from robe to robe,
Might see you on this earthly globe,

Crowned with the silver crown of age.

Your dear hair powdered in strange guise,
Your dear face touched with colours pale ;
And gazing through the mask and veil

The mirth of your immortal eyes.

75



THE EARTH'S SHAME



THE EARTH'S SHAME

NAME not his deed : in shuddering and in haste
We dragged him darkly o'er the windy fell :
That night there was a gibbet in the waste.
And a new sin in hell.

Be his deed hid from commonwealths and kings,

By all men born be one true tale forgot ;
But three things, braver than all earthly things,
Faced him and feared him not.

Above his head and sunken secret face

Nested the sparrow's young and dropped not dead.
From the red blood and slime of that lost place
Grew daisies white, not red.



THE EARTH'S SHAME

And from high heaven looking uponlhim,

Slowly upon the face of God did come
A smile the cherubim and seraphim
Hid all their faces from.



77



VANITY



VANITY

A WAN sky greener than the lawn,
A wan lawn paler than the sky.

She gave a flower into my hand,
And all the hours of eve went by.

Who knows what round the corner waits
To smite ? If shipwreck, snare, or slur

Shall leave me with a head to lift,
Worthy of him that spoke with her.

A wan sky greener than the lawn,
A wan lawn paler than the sky.

She gave a flower into my hand,
And all the days of life went by.

78



VANITY

Live ill or well, this thing is mine,
From all I guard it, ill or well.

One tawdry, tattered, faded flower
To show the jealous kings in hell,



79



THE LAMP POST



THE LAMP POST

LAUGH your best, O blazoned forests,
Me ye shall not shift or shame

With your beauty : here among you
Man hath set his spear of flame.

Lamp to lamp we send the signal,
For our lord goes forth to war ;

Since a voice, ere stars were builded,
Bade him colonise a star.

Laugh ye, cruel as the morning,

Deck your heads with fruit and flower,

Though our souls be sick with pity,
Yet our hands are hard with power.
80



THE LAMP POST

We have read your evil stories,
We have heard the tiny yell

Through the voiceless conflagration
Of your green and shining hell.

And when men, with fires and shouting,
Break your old tyrannic pales ;

And where ruled a single spider
Laugh and weep a million tales.

This shall be your best of boasting :
That some poet, poor of spine,

Full and sated with our wisdom,
Full and fiery with our wine,

Shall steal out and make a treaty
With the grasses and the showers,

Rail against the grey town-mother,
Fawn upon the scornful flowers ;
81



THE LAMP POST

Rest his head among the roses,
Where a quiet song-bird sounds,

And no sword made sharp for traitors,
Hack him into meat for hounds.



82



THE PESSIMIST



THE PESSIMIST

You that have snarled through the ages, take your

answer and go
I know your hoary question, the riddle that all men

know.
You have weighed the stars in a balance, and grasped

the skies in a span :

Take, if you must have answer, the word of a common
man.

Deep in my life lies buried one love unhealed, unshriven,
One hunger still shall haunt me yea, in the streets of

heaven ;

This is the burden, babbler, this is the curse shall cling,
This is the thing I bring you ; this is the pleasant thing.

83



THE PESSIMIST

'Gainst you and all your sages, no joy of mine shall

strive,

This one dead self shall shatter the men you call alive.
My grief I send to smite you, no pleasure, no belief,
Lord of the battered grievance, what do you know of

grief ?



I only know the praises to heaven that one man gave,
That he came on earth for an instantj to stand beside a

grave,
The peace of a field of battle, where flowers are born of

blood.
I only know one evil that makes the whole world good.



Beneath this single sorrow the globe of moon and

sphere
Turns to a single jewel, so bright and brittle and dear



THE PESSIMIST

That I dread lest God should drop it, to be dashed into
stars below.

You that have snarled through the ages, take your
answer and go.



A FAIRY TALE



A FAIRY TALE

ALL things grew upwards, foul and fair :
The great trees fought and beat the air
With monstrous wings that would have flown ;
But the old earth clung to her own,
Holding them back from heavenly wars,
Though every flower sprang at the stars.

But he broke free : while all things ceased,
Some hour increasing, he increased.
The town beneath him seemed a map,
Above the church he cocked his cap,
Above the cross his feather flew
Above the birds : and still he grew.
86



A FAIRY TALE

The trees turned grass ; the clouds were riven
His feet were mountains lost in heaven ;
Through strange new skies he rose alone,
The earth fell from him like a stone.
And his own limbs beneath him far
Seemed tapering down to touch a star.

He reared his head, shaggy and grim,
Staring among the cherubim ;
The seven celestial floors he rent,
One crystal dome still o'er him bent :
Above his head, more clear than hope,
All heaven was a microscope.



A PORTRAIT



A PORTRAIT

FAIR faces crowd on Christmas night

Like seven suns a-row,
But all beyond is the wolfish wind

And the crafty feet of the snow.

But through the rout one figure goes
With quick and quiet tread ;

Her robe is plain, her form is frail
Wait if she turn her head.

I say no word of line or hue.

But if that face you see,
Your soul shall know the smile of faith's

Awful frivolity.
88



A PORTRAIT

Know that in this grotesque old masque

Too loud we cannot sing,
Or dance too wild, or speak too wide

To praise a hidden thing.

That though the jest be old as night,
Still shaketh sun and sphere

An everlasting laughter
Too loud for us to hear.



FEMINA CONTRA MUNDUM



FEMINA CONTRA MUNDUM

THE sun was black with judgment, and the moon

Blood : but between
I saw a man stand, saying, c To me at least

The grass is green.

c There was no star that I forgot to fear

With love and wonder.
The birds have loved me ' ; but no answer came

Only the thunder.

Once more the man stood, saying, ' A cottage door,

Wherethrough I gazed
That instant as I turned yea, I am vile ;

Yet my eyes blazed.
90



FEMINA CONTRA MUNDUM

'For I had weighed the mountains in a balance,
And the skies in a scale,

I come to sell the stars old lamps for new
Old stars for sale.'

Then a calm voice fell all the thunder through,

A tone less rough :
' Thou hast begun to love one of my works

Almost enough.'



TO A CERTAIN NATION



TO A CERTAIN NATION

WE will not let thee be, for thou art ours.

We thank thee still, though thou forget these things,
For that hour's sake when thou didst wake all powers

With a great cry that God was sick of kings.

Leave thee there grovelling at their rusted greaves,
These hulking cowards on a painted stage,

Who, with imperial pomp and laurel leaves,
Show their Marengo one man in a cage.

These, for whom stands no type or title given
In all the squalid tales of gore and pelf;

Though cowed by crashing thunders from all heaven,
Cain never said, c My brother slew himself.'
92



TO A CERTAIN NATION

Tear you the truth out of your drivelling spy,

The maniac whom you set to swing death's scythe.

Nay ; torture not the torturer let him lie :

What need of racks to teach a worm to writhe ?

Bear with us, O our sister, not in pride,

Nor any scorn we see thee spoiled of knaves.

But only shame to hear, where Danton died,

Thy foul dead kings all laughing in their graves.

Thou hast a right to rule thyself ; to be

The thing thou wilt ; to grin, to fawn, to creep ;

To crown these clumsy liars ; ay, and we

Who knew thee once, we have a right to weep.



93



THE PRAISE OF DUST



THE PRAISE OF DUST

' WHAT of vile dust ? ' the preacher said.

Methought the whole world woke,
The dead stone lived beneath my foot,

And my whole body spoke.

' You, that play tyrant to the dust,
And stamp its wrinkled face,

This patient star that flings you not
Far into homeless space.

c Come down out of your dusty shrine

The living dust to see,
The flowers that at your sermon's end

Stand blazing silently.

94



THE PRAISE OF DUST

4 Rich white and blood-red blossom ; stones,

Lichens like fire encrust ;
A gleam of blue, a glare of gold,

The vision of the dust.

' Pass them all by : till, as you come

Where, at a city's edge,
Under a tree I know it well

Under a lattice ledge,

' The sunshine falls on one brown head.

You, too, O cold of clay,
Eater of stones, may haply hear

The trumpets of that day

'When God to all his paladins

By his own splendour swore
To make a fairer face than heaven,

Of dust and nothing more.'
95



THE BALLAD OF



THE BALLAD OF THE BATTLE OF
GIBEON

FIVE Icings rule o'er the Amorite,

Mighty as fear and old as night ;

Swathed with unguent and gold and jewel,

Waxed they merry and fat and cruel.

Zedek of Salem, a terror and glory,

Whose face was hid while his robes were gory ;

And Hoham of Hebron, whose loathly face is

Heavy and dark o'er the ruin of races ;

And Piram of Jarmuth, drunk with strange wine,

Who dreamed he had fashioned all stars that shine

And Debir of Eglon wild, without pity,

Who raged like a plague in the midst of his city ;

And Japhia of Lachish, a fire that flameth,

Who did in the daylight what no man nameth.

9 6



THE BATTLE OF GIBEON

These five kings said one to another,

c King unto king o'er the world is brother,

Seeing that now, for a sign and a wonder,

A red eclipse and a tongue of thunder,

A shape and a finger of desolation,

Is come against us a kingless nation.

Gibeon hath failed us : it were not good

That a man remember where Gibeon stood.'

Then Gibeon sent to our captain, crying,

* Son of Nun, let a shaft be flying,

For unclean birds are gathering greedily ;

Slack not thy hand, but come thou speedily.

Yea, we are lost save thou maintain'st us,

For the kings of the mountains are gathered against us.'

Then to our people spake the Deliverer,
c Gibeon is high, yet a host may shiver her ;
Gibeon hath sent to me crying for pity,
For the lords of the cities encompass the city
G 97



THE BALLAD OF

With chariot and banner and bowman and lancer,
And I swear by the living God I will answer.
Gird you, O Israel, quiver and javelin,
Shield and sword for the road we travel in ;
Verily, as I have promised, pay I
Life unto Gibeon, death unto Ai.'

Sudden and still as a bolt shot right

Up on the city we went by night.

Never a bird of the air could say,

4 This was the children of Israel's way.'

Only the hosts sprang up from sleeping,

Saw from the heights a dark stream sweeping ;

Sprang up straight as a great shout stung them,

And heard the Deliverer's war-cry among them,

Heard under cupola, turret, and steeple

The awful cry of the kingless people.

Started the weak of them, shouted the strong of them,
Crashed we a thunderbolt into the throng of them,



THE BATTLE OF GIBEON

Blindly with heads bent, and shields forced before us,
We heard the dense roar of the strife closing o'er us.
And drunk with the crash of the song that it sung

them,
We drove the great spear-blade in God's name among

them.

Redder and redder the sword-flash fell,

Our eyes and our nostrils were hotter than hell ;

Till full all the crest of the spear-surge shocking us,

Hoham of Hebron cried out mocking us,

c Nay, what need of the war-sword's plying,

Out of the desert the dust comes flying.

A little red dust, if the wind be blowing

Who shall reck of its coming or going ? '

Back the Deliverer spake as a clarion,

c Mock at thy slaves, thou eater of carrion !

Laughest thou at us, in thy kingly clowning,

We, that laughed upon Ramases frowning,

99



THE BALLAD OF

We that stood up proud, unpardoned,

When his face was dark and his heart was hardened ?

Pharaoh we knew and his steeds, not faster

Than the word of the Lord in thine ear, O master.'

Sheer through the turban his wantons wove him,

Clean to the skull the Deliverer clove him ;

And the two hosts reeled at the sign appalling,

As the great king fell like a great house falling.

Loudly we shouted, and living and dying,

Bore them all backward with strength and strong
crying ;

And Caleb struck Zedek hard at the throat,

And Japhia of Lachish Zebulon smote.

The war-swords and axes were clashing and groaning,

The fallen were fighting and foaming and moaning,

The war-spears were breaking, the war-horns were bray-
ing)

Ere the hands of the slayers were sated with slaying.

100



THE BATTLE OF GIBEON

And deep in the grasses grown gory and sodden,
The treaders of all men were trampled and trodden ;
And over them, routed and reeled like cattle,
High over the turn of the tide of the battle,
High over noises that deafen and cover us,
Rang the Deliverer's voice out over us.

' Stand thou still, thou sun upon Gibeon,
Stand thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon !
Shout thou, people, a cry like thunder,
For the kings of the earth are broken asunder.
Now we have said as the thunder says it,
Something is stronger than strength and slays it.
Now we have written for all time later,
Five kings are great, yet a law is greater.
Stare, O sun ! in thine own great glory,
This is the turn of the whole world's story.
Stand thou still, thou sun upon Gibeon,
Stand thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon !
101



THE BALLAD OF

' Smite ! amid spear-blades blazing and breaking,

More than we know of is rising and making.

Stab with the javelin, crash with the car !

Cry ! for we know not the thing that we are.

Stand, O sun ! that in horrible patience

Smiled on the smoke and the slaughter of nations.

Thou shalt grow sad for a little crying,

Thou shalt be darkened for one man's dying

Stand thou still, thou sun upon Gibeon,

Stand thoUj moon, in the valley of Ajalon ! '

After the battle was broken and spent
Up to the hill the Deliverer went,
Flung up his arms to the storm-clouds flying,
And cried unto Israel, mightily crying,
1 Come up, O warriors ! come up, O brothers !
Tribesmen and herdsmen, maidens and mothers ;
The bondman's son and the bondman's daughter,
The hewer of wood and the drawer of water,
102



THE BATTLE OF GIBEON

He that carries and he that brings,
And set your foot on the neck of kings.'

This is the story of Gibeon fight

Where we smote the lords of the Amorite ;

Where the banners of princes with slaughter were sodden,

And the beards of seers in the rank grass trodden ;

Where the trees were wrecked by the wreck of cars,

And the reek of the red field blotted the stars \

Where the dead heads dropped from the swords that

sever,
Because His mercy endureth for ever.



103


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