The Ballad of the White Horse

I was surprised. I actually enjoyed “The Ballad of the White Horse” quite a bit. It would make a good short play if you could swing the costumes.

Chesterton is proud to be a Christian and so are the heroes in his tale, something you don’t see dared that much lately. I like it. Let’s see more. I copied down a few odd passages I enjoyed:

Here, King Alfred’s Irish friend Colan’s harp is described:

His harp was carved and cunning
As the Celtic craftsman makes,
Graven all over with twisting shapes
Like many headless snakes

His harp was carved and cunning
His sword prompt and sharp,
And he was gay when he held the sword,
Sad when he held the harp.

-G.K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse, Book II

This section contains some comments on free will and takes, like Tolkien I think, a high view of man’s creative power, endowed by God very intentionally of course. It’s far better to “fall with Adam” and admit your sin, leaning on God, than to pridefully follow after other gods of your own devising as if you were still hot stuff.

When God put man in a garden
He girt him with a sword,
And sent him forth a free knight,
That might betray his lord;

He brake Him and betrayed Him
And fast and far he fell
Till you and I may stretch our necks
And burn our beards in hell.

But though I lie on the floor of the world
With the seven sins for rods,
I would rather fall with Adam
Than rise with all your gods.

-Book III

Later, Colan pulls a fast one on Harold, one of the evil Viking lords. Exciting stuff!

For Colan had not bow nor sling,
On a lonely sword leaned he,
Like Arthur on Excalibur
In the battle by the sea.

To his great gold earring Harold
Tugged back the feathered tail
And swift and sprung the arrow,
But swifter sprang the Gael.

Whirling the one sword round his head,
A great wheel in the sun,
He sent it splendid through the sky
Flying before the shaft could fly –
It smote Earl Harold over the eye,
And blood began to run.

-Book V