Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh, Hooray!

I was going through a few things at my folks' house yesterday and found--oh the joy!--my copy of The Works of G.K. Chesterton (from the Wordsworth Poetry Library). It's just a little paperback that I got at the Folsom outlet mall, man, maybe ten years ago now, unforgiveably dog-eared, and worn with the honor of being one of those books I always felt obliged to take along when packing for a trip (I hardly ever read when I am traveling, but this doesn't prevent me from weighting my luggage with more books than I would normally read in a month). Anyway, it is one of my favorites. I would certainly not venture to imply I understand an inordinate amount of it, but the words fall together in a very musical fashion, painting emotions, ideas in broad strokes, like a watercolor picture that needs to be viewed from a distance before it takes a comprehensible form. Chesterton did not only prefer bright colors and contrasts by nature, he spent some time in art school, and it is evident in his poetry, such as these verses from The Ballad of the White Horse:

The road croaked homeward heavily,
The west was clear and warm,
The smoke of evening food and ease
Rose like a blue tree in the trees
When he came to Eldred's farm.
Long looked the Roman on the land;
The trees as golden crowns
Blazed, drenched with dawn and dew-empearled,
While faintlier coloured, freshlier curled,
The clouds from underneath the world
Stood up over the downs.

Paradox is synonymous with Chesterton's name, and his poetry is as weighted with it as any of his other writings.
For a War Memorial
Suggested inscription probably not selected by the committee
The hucksters haggle in the mart
The cars and carts go by;
Senates and schools go droning on;
For dead things cannot die.

A storm stooped on the place of tombs
With bolts to blast and rive;
But these be the names of many men
The lightning found alive.

If usurers rule and rights decay
And visions view once more
Great Carthage like a golden shell
Gape hollow on the shore,

Still to the last of crumbling time
Upon this stone be read
How many men of England died
To prove they were not dead.

More quotes forthcoming. . .but I need to read for a while.

No comments: