Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I came across your web site while doing some searching on the Internet for an English essay that I remember reading in my junior high school days. I am fifty years old now and I have been searching for the book with that essay for a long time now! I know the essay's title was "On Chasing One's Hat" and by searching, I have found out that it must have been written by G K Chesterton. I was wondering if you know the name of the book this essay was in so I could try to find it somewhere, or maybe you know where I could read it online somewhere.

I myself don't know but if any of you do, please comment and let me know and I will email it back. Thanks.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I was very fortunate to be able to go on a fabulous three week trip to England and Scotland recently. One of my favourite parts (though I had many) was London. I wasn't able to see Chesterton's home, but I was able to see some other landmarks in his life, such as St. Paul's Cathedral (famous for starring in the novel The Ball and the Cross) and Fleet Street. For me, it was something like a Tolkien fan being transported into Middle Earth. I’d read about all these places and things in Chesterton’s novels, and they seemed almost fictional—part of the story.

“But I know another lane in England crooked also, though a little broader round one corner, of which one sees something more splendid than the sea. The name of this lane is Fleet Street, and the sight is the dreadful dome and cross which Wren set in the sky. Now, when I see this, I do not feel that it is a thing meant to be seen a million times; but once or twice or thrice at some strange crisis of the soul.”
- The Illustrated London News, 31 August 1907.

(Read the whole quote at The Hebdomadal Chesterton.)

Poetry Friday- Dedication of the Ballad of the White Horse, to Frances Chesterton

Of great limbs gone to chaos,
A great face turned to night--
Why bend above a shapeless shroud
Seeking in such archaic cloud
Sight of strong lords and light?

Where seven sunken Englands
Lie buried one by one,
Why should one idle spade, I wonder,
Shake up the dust of thanes like thunder
To smoke and choke the sun?

In cloud of clay so cast to heaven
What shape shall man discern?
These lords may light the mystery
Of mastery or victory,
And these ride high in history,
But these shall not return.

Gored on the Norman gonfalon
The Golden Dragon died:
We shall not wake with ballad strings
The good time of the smaller things,
We shall not see the holy kings
Ride down by Severn side.

Stiff, strange, and quaintly coloured
As the broidery of Bayeux
The England of that dawn remains,
And this of Alfred and the Danes
Seems like the tales a whole tribe feigns
Too English to be true.

Of a good king on an island
That ruled once on a time;
And as he walked by an apple tree
There came green devils out of the sea
With sea-plants trailing heavily
And tracks of opal slime.

Yet Alfred is no fairy tale;
His days as our days ran,
He also looked forth for an hour
On peopled plains and skies that lower,
From those few windows in the tower
That is the head of a man.

But who shall look from Alfred's hood
Or breathe his breath alive?
His century like a small dark cloud
Drifts far; it is an eyeless crowd,
Where the tortured trumpets scream aloud
And the dense arrows drive.

Lady, by one light only
We look from Alfred's eyes,
We know he saw athwart the wreck
The sign that hangs about your neck,
Where One more than Melchizedek
Is dead and never dies.

Therefore I bring these rhymes to you
Who brought the cross to me,
Since on you flaming without flaw
I saw the sign that Guthrum saw
When he let break his ships of awe,
And laid peace on the sea.

Do you remember when we went
Under a dragon moon,
And `mid volcanic tints of night
Walked where they fought the unknown fight
And saw black trees on the battle-height,
Black thorn on Ethandune?
And I thought, "I will go with you,
As man with God has gone,
And wander with a wandering star,
The wandering heart of things that are,
The fiery cross of love and war
That like yourself, goes on."

O go you onward; where you are
Shall honour and laughter be,
Past purpled forest and pearled foam,
God's winged pavilion free to roam,
Your face, that is a wandering home,
A flying home for me.

Ride through the silent earthquake lands,
Wide as a waste is wide,
Across these days like deserts, when
Pride and a little scratching pen
Have dried and split the hearts of men,
Heart of the heroes, ride.

Up through an empty house of stars,
Being what heart you are,
Up the inhuman steeps of space
As on a staircase go in grace,
Carrying the firelight on your face
Beyond the loneliest star.

Take these; in memory of the hour
We strayed a space from home
And saw the smoke-hued hamlets, quaint
With Westland king and Westland saint,
And watched the western glory faint
Along the road to Frome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I wondered if someone of you have read the Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. In case you've read it, I'd love to know what you think about it, and about his idea of civilization and darkness and all that.
The problem is that I have to do a work on Africa titled 'The forgotten continent" and I was interested in mentioning Conrad, mainly because I love how he describes the Thames, and his idea that 'that also had been one of the dark places of Earth'.

I was thinking of very old times - says Marlow - when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago, the other day... like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds.

But before getting down to work, I need to know the ideas or reflections of somebody I trust. And there's no one I trust more than Chestertonians of any age.
And, of course, if somebody of you knows a Chesteton's quote, book or article on this same subject, I couldn't be more grateful.

Thank you so much.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Email from Aidan Mackey to the ChesterTeens

I am not, alas!, in the age-group you cater for, but I met some of you at the St. Paul Chesterton Conference in June, and just wish to repeat what I constantly say --that it is, in my old age (85 last Monday) an enormous benediction to see and meet the growing number of intelligent young people who are discovering G.K.C.
That splendid conference was my last because on the flight back to England my foot became badly swollen (nearly ten hours in the cramped economy class), and that is a warning sign. For the first time, attendance passed the 500 mark, so that future conferences must be in a larger auditorium......... marvellous!
Blessings and good wishes to you all,
Aidan Mackey
(The oldest & noisiest Chestertonian)

Read more about Aidan Mackey here. The information there given seems to indicate that Aidan Mackey was the original ChesterTeen. (:

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Final Installment of Lepanto

As today is the 436th (?) anniversary of the battle of Lepanto, it seems a fitting day to conclude the series of stanzas from that wonderful poem. In fact this last installment seems to be the narrative of the actual battle, and thus this day 436 years ago.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plum├Ęd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign--
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

P.S. I just found a wonderful short story (at the same site that I copied Lepanto from) by Chesterton: The Disadvantage of Having Two Heads (and it's illustrated by the author)!!!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Poetry Friday- You Guessed it... Lepanto

King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed--
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

And I'm sure you can't guess where I copied it from.

Monday, October 01, 2007

World Youth Day

"Religious unity can look like a carnival and religious liberty can look like a funeral."

I wish I could post a better picture of the last Wyd but, apart from forgetting to take the camera with me, I've lost all the photos I took with one of those single use cameras I bought in the way to Cologne, in Paris, another beautiful city.

Anyway, I found this quote by Chesterton and it reminded me instantly of that summer. I've also read somewhere something Chesterton wrote on Cockneys and their jokes that made me think of the days in Cologne. It had something to do with french beards, but I haven't been able to find it.

What I can say is that I had a great time that summer and, though I haven't got any picture left, I keep an italian flag and bunch of hats, caps, bracelets and other souvenirs from different parts of the world. If you've been there you know what I'm talking about.

I hope you like the picture and the quote, if you hadn't heard of it, and I also hope to see you in the next World Youth Day in Sydney, which, of course, I'm attending. No one could possibly make me miss it. Ci vediamo a Sydney ! (That's one of the things I learnt to say in Italian).