Monday, July 07, 2008

Two ballades

"A Ballade Of Suicide"

by G.K. Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours - on the wall -
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me.... After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay -
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall -
I see a little cloud all pink and grey -
Perhaps the Rector's mother will not call -
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way -
I never read the works of Juvenal -
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational -
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small -
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall -
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Untitled ballade

by Hilaire Belloc

I like to read myself to sleep in Bed,
A thing that every honest man has done
At one time or another, it is said,
But not as something in the usual run;
Now from ten years old to forty one
Have never missed a night: and what I need
To buck me up is Gilbert Chesterton,
(The only man I regularly read).

The Illustrated London News is wed
To letter press as stodgy as a bun,
The Daily News might just as well be dead,
The 'Idler' has a tawdry kind of fun,
The 'Speaker' is a sort of Sally Lunn,
The World' is like a small unpleasant weed;
I take them all because of Chesterton,
(The only man I regularly read).

The memories of the Duke of Beachy Head,
The memoirs of Lord Hildebrand (his son)
Are things I could have written on my head,
So are the memories of the Comte de Mun,
And as for novels written by the ton,
I'd burn the bloody lot! I know the Breed!
And get me back to be with Chesterton
(The only man I regularly read).

Prince, have you read a book called "Thoughts upon
The Ethos of the Athanasian Creed"?
No matter - it is not by Chesterton
(The only man I regularly read).

1 comment:

Meredith said...

I memorized the "Ballade of Suicide" and recited it to my class when I was in high school. I can still run through it, I think...