After looking at Belloc last week, we come to the other twin tower of Catholic thought in literature at the turn of the last century: G. K. Chesterton (that's Gilbert Keith for those of you unfamiliar with him). Born in 1874, he died in 1936, and there was a lot of living - and writing - in between. There's a gentleman who's still trying to catalog everything that Chesterton wrote. He was a youngish man the last I saw him; he'll be long gray by the time he finishes.
Famous for his Father Brown mysteries and his myriad books on theology, sociology, politics and modern culture, Chesterton was also a journalist/columnist and, of course, a poet. Among his most well-known works were the long narative Lepanto and the epic The Ballad of the White Horse.
W. H. Auden said, "By natural gift, Chesteron was, I think, essentially a comic poet." Perhaps. He certainly had a marvelous sense of humor. But his serious poetry had a natural gift of being wide-eyed as a child and as wise as a wizened sage. Today's poem comes from the volume The Wild Knight and Other Poems, first published in 1900. It has that quietness that comes from experience. Enjoy.
Lo! I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold;
Grey hairs and golden leaves cry out
The year and I are old.
In youth I sought the prince of men,
Captain in cosmic wars.
Our Titan, even the weeds would show
Defiant, to the stars.
But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.
In youth I sought the golden flower
Hidden in wood or wold.
But I am come to autumn,
When all the leaves are gold.