Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

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.

Gold Leaves

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.

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