Click to return to PC Home Page
Poets: A B . C D . E F . G H . I J . K L . M N . O P . Q R . S T . U V . W X . Y Z | Home | Other

[Index to poems in the collection by Don Marquis]


    WHITE founts falling in the courts of the sun,
    And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
    There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
    It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
    It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
    For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
    They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
    They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
    And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
    And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
    The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
    The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
    From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
    And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

    Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
    Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
    Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
    The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
    The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
    That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
    In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
    Comes up along the winding road the noise of the Crusade.
    Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
    Don John of Austria is going to the war,
    Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
    In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold.

    Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
    Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
    Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
    Spurning of his stirrups like the throne of all the world,
    Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
    Love-light of Spain -- hurrah!
    Death-light of Africa!
    Don John of Austria
    Is riding to the sea.

    Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
    (Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
    He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees,
    His turban that is woven of the sunset and the seas.
    He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
    And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees,
    And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
    Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
    Giants and the Genii,
    Multiplex of wing and eye,
    Whose strong obedience broke the sky
    When Solomon was king.

    They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
    From temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
    They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
    Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be;
    On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
    Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
    They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,--
    They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
    And he saith, `Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
    And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
    And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
    For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
    We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
    Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done,
    But noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
    The voice that shook our palaces -- four hundred years ago:
    It is he that saith not `Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate;
    It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
    It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
    Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth.'
    For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
    (Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
    Sudden and still -- hurrah!
    Bolt from Iberia!
    Don John of Austria
    Is gone by Alcalar.

    St Michael's on his mountain in the sea-roads of the north
    (Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
    Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
    And the sea folk labour and the red sails lift.
    He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
    The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
    The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
    And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
    And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room
    And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
    And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
    But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
    Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
    Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
    Trumpet that sayeth ha!
    Domino gloria!
    Don John of Austria
    Is shouting to the ships.

    King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
    (Don Juan 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.

    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 plumèd lions on the galley's 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 swat, 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,
    Upon which a lean and foolish knight forever 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.)

    G. K. Chesterton

The Rolling English Road

    BEFORE the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
    The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
    A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
    And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
    A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
    The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

    I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
    And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
    But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
    To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
    Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
    The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

    His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
    Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
    The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
    But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
    God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
    The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

    My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
    Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
    But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
    And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
    For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
    Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

    G. K. Chesterton

A Ballade of an Anti-Puritan

    THEY spoke of Progress spiring round,
    Of light and Mrs Humphrey Ward--
    It is not true to say I frowned,
    Or ran about the room and roared;
    I might have simply sat and snored--
    I rose politely in the club
    And said, `I feel a little bored;
    Will someone take me to a pub?'

    The new world's wisest did surround
    Me; and it pains me to record
    I did not think their views profound,
    Or their conclusions well assured;
    The simple life I can't afford,
    Besides, I do not like the grub--
    I want a mash and sausage, `scored'--
    Will someone take me to a pub?

    I know where Men can still be found,
    Anger and clamorous accord,
    And virtues growing from the ground,
    And fellowship of beer and board,
    And song, that is a sturdy cord,
    And hope, that is a hardy shrub,
    And goodness, that is God's last word--
    Will someone take me to a pub?

    Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword
    To see the sort of knights you dub--
    Is that the last of them--O Lord
    Will someone take me to a pub?

    G. K. Chesterton

Elegy in a Country Churchyard

    THE men that worked for England
    They have their graves at home:
    And birds and bees of England
    About the cross can roam.

    But they that fought for England,
    Following a falling star,
    Alas, alas for England
    They have their graves afar.

    And they that rule in England,
    In stately conclave met,
    Alas, alas for England
    They have no graves as yet.

    G. K. Chesterton

The Englishman

    >ST George he was for England.
    And before he killed the dragon
    He drank a pint of English ale
    Out of an English flagon.
    For though he fast right readily
    In hair-shirt or in mail.
    It isn't safe to give him cakes
    Unless you give him ale.

    St George he was for England,
    And right gallantly set free
    The lady left for dragon's meat
    And tied up to a tree;
    But since he stood for England
    And knew what England means,
    Unless you give him bacon
    You mustn't give him beans.

    St George he is for England,
    And shall wear the shield he wore
    When we go out in armour
    With the battle-cross before.
    But though he is jolly company
    And very pleased to dine,
    It isn't safe to give him nuts
    Unless you give him wine.

    G. K. Chesterton

Wine and Water

    OLD Noah he had an ostrich farm and fowls on the largest scale,
    He ate his egg with a ladle in a egg-cup big as a pail.
    And the soup he took was Elephant Soup and the fish he took was Whale.
    But they all were small to the cellar he took when he set out to sail,
    And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
    'I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine.'

    The cataract of the cliff of heaven fell blinding off the brink
    As if it would wash the stars away as suds go down a sink,
    The seven heavens came roaring down for the throats of hell to drink,
    And Noah he cocked his eye and said, 'It looks like rain, I think.
    The water has drowned the Matterhorn as deep as a Mendip mine,
    But I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine.'

    But Noah he sinned, and we have sinned; on tipsy feet we trod.
    Till a great big black teetotaller was sent to us for a rod,
    And you can't get wine at a P.S.A., or chapel, or Eisteddfod,
    For the Curse of Water has come again because of the wrath of God,
    And water is on the Bishop's board and the Higher Thinker's shrine,
    But I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine.

    G. K. Chesterton

The Song of the Oak

    THE Druids waved their golden knives
    And danced around the Oak
    When they had sacrificed a man;
    But though the learned search and scan
    No single modern person can
    Entirely see the joke.
    But though they cut the throats of men
    They cut not down the tree,
    And from the blood the saplings spring
    Of oak-woods yet to be.
    But Ivywood, Lord Ivywood,
    He rots the tree as ivy would,
    He clings and crawls as ivy would
    About the sacred tree.

    King Charles he fled from Worcester fight
    And hid him in the Oak;
    In convent schools no man of tact
    Would trace and praise his every act,
    Or argue that he was in fact
    A strict and sainted bloke.
    But not by him the sacred woods
    Have lost their fancies free,
    And though he was extremely big
    He did not break the tree.
    But Ivywood, Lord Ivywood,
    He breaks the tree as ivy would,
    And eats the woods as ivy would
    Between us and the sea.

    Great Collingwood walked down the glade
    And flung the acorns free,
    That oaks might still be in the grove
    As oaken as the beams above,
    When the great Lover sailors love
    Was kissed by Death at aea.
    But though for him the oak-trees fell
    To build the oaken ships,
    The woodman worshipped what he smote
    And honoured even the chips.
    But Ivywood, Lord Ivywood,
    He hates the tree as ivy would,
    As the dragon of the ivy would
    That has us in his grips.

    G. K. Chesterton

The Song Against Grocers

    GOD made the wicked Grocer
    For a mystery and a sign,
    That men might shun the awful shops
    And go to inns to dine;
    Where the bacon's on the rafter
    And the wine is in the wood,
    And God that made good laughter
    Has seen that they are good.

    The evil-hearted Grocer
    Would call his mother 'Ma'am,'
    And bow at her and bob at her,
    Her aged soul to damn,
    And rub his horrid hands and ask
    What article was next,
    Though mortis in articulo
    Should be her proper text.

    His props are not his children,
    But pert lads underpaid,
    Who call out 'Cash!' and bang about
    To work his wicked trade;
    He keeps a lady in a cage
    Most cruelly all day
    And makes her count and calls her 'Miss'
    Until she fades away.

    The righteous minds of innkeepers
    Induce them now and then
    To crack a bottle with a friend
    Or treat unmoneyed men,
    But who hath seen the Grocer
    Treat housemaids to his teas
    Or crack a bottle of fish-sauce
    Or stand a man a cheese?

    He sells us sands of Araby
    As sugar for cash down;
    He sweeps his shop and sells the dust
    The purest salt in town,
    He crams with cans of poisoned meat
    The subjects of the King,
    And when they die my thousands
    Why, he laughs like anything.

    The wicked Grocer groces
    In spirits and in wine,
    Not frankly and in fellowship
    As men in inns do dine;
    But packed with soap and sardines
    And carried off by grooms,
    For to be snatched by Duchesses
    And drunk in dressing-rooms.

    The hell-instructed Grocer
    Has a temple made of tin,
    And the ruin of good innkeepers
    Is loudly urged therein;
    But now the sands are running out
    From sugar of a sort,
    The Grocer trembles; for his time,
    Just like his weight, is short.

    G. K. Chesterton

The Road to Roundabout

    SOME say that Guy of Warwick
    The man that killed the Cow,
    And brake the mighty Boar alive
    Beyond the bridge at Slough;
    Went up against a Loathly Worm
    That wasted all the Downs,
    And so the roads they twist and squirm
    (If a may be allowed the term)
    From the writhing of the stricken Worm
    That died in seven towns.
    I see no scientific proof
    That this idea is sound,
    And I should say they wound about
    To find the town of Roundabout,
    The merry town of Roundabout,
    That makes the world go round.

    Some say that Robin Goodfellow,
    Whose lantern lights the meads
    (To steal a phrase Sir Walter Scott
    In heaven no longer needs),
    Such dance around the trysting-place
    The moonstruck lover leads;
    Which superstition I should scout
    There is more faith in honest doubt
    (As Tennyson has pointed out)
    Than in those nasty creeds.
    But peace and righteousness (St John)
    In Roundabout can kiss,
    And since that's all that's found about
    The pleasant town of Roundabout,
    The roads they simply bound about
    To find out where it is.

    Some say that when Sir Lancelot
    Went forth to find the Grail,
    Grey Merlin wrinkled up the roads
    For hope that he would fail;
    All roads lead back to Lyonesse
    And Camelot in the Vale,
    I cannot yield assent to this
    Extravagant hypothesis,
    The plain, shrewd Briton will dismiss
    Such rumours (Daily Mail).
    But in the streets of Roundabout
    Are no such factions found,
    Or theories to expound about,
    Or roll upon the ground about,
    In the happy town of Roundabout,
    That makes the world go round.

    G. K. Chesterton

Who Goes Home

    IN the city set upon slime and loam
    They cry in their parliament 'Who goes home?'
    And there comes no answer in arch or dome,
    For none in the city of graves goes home.
    Yet these shall perish and understand,
    For God has pity on this great land.

    Men that are men again; who goes home?
    Tocsin and trumpeter! Who goes home?
    For there's blood on the field and blood on the foam
    And blood on the body when Man goes home.
    And a voice valedictory . . . Who is for Victory?
    Who is for Liberty? Who goes home?

    G.K. Chesterton

[Index to poems in the collection by G. K. Chesterton]

Poets' Corner . The Other Pages . E-mail

©2009 Poets' Corner Editorial Staff, All Rights Reserved Worldwide