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The Battle of Lepanto
Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Posted on 10/07/2001 10:31:35 AM PDT by Cicero


by G.K.Chesterton

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 a 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 thrones 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 sunsets 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 the 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 a 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.

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1 posted on 10/07/2001 10:31:35 AM PDT by Cicero
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To: Cicero
St. Michaels 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 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.

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 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.)

2 posted on 10/07/2001 10:32:35 AM PDT by Cicero
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To: Cicero
Beautiful, Cicero. But don't forget that it was through the the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that this battle was won against all possible odds.

By the way, today (Oct.7) is the Feastday of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I'm urging all Catholics to please pray the Rosary for the defeat of the infidals and the safe return of our armed forces.

3 posted on 10/07/2001 10:41:19 AM PDT by fortitude
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: Cicero
One of my favorite poems. I'm sending it off to a Navy friend now.
5 posted on 10/07/2001 11:06:23 AM PDT by Dumb_Ox
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To: JohnHuang2
Here is another literary allusion I thought you might appreciate. Interesting that this is the date.
6 posted on 10/07/2001 11:07:27 AM PDT by Miss Marple
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To: B-Chan
Deus vult!
7 posted on 10/07/2001 11:24:28 AM PDT by Goetz_von_Berlichingen
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To: fortitude
Thank you. I hadn't clicked on the date. But of course you are right that the fleet, mostly Venetian, was put under the protection of Our Lady.

Some Freepers have commented on another convergence of dates: that the national memorial service for the victims in Washington took place on the Feast commemorating the Victory of the Cross.

8 posted on 10/07/2001 11:33:58 AM PDT by Cicero
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To: Pinlighter
Yes, I think I've read most of Chesterton, except for his many newspaper columns.

I especially like Orthodoxy, The Man Who was Thursday, The Battle of Notting Hill, and the Everlasting Man. Also his great biographies of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Asisi.

9 posted on 10/07/2001 11:38:30 AM PDT by Cicero
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To: Dumb_Ox
I see by your name that you must be a Chesterton fan.
10 posted on 10/07/2001 11:39:12 AM PDT by Cicero
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To: Cicero

A dead thing can go with the stream; only a living thing can go against it. --G.K. Chesterton

11 posted on 10/07/2001 9:29:16 PM PDT by jrherreid
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To: Cicero
Have you read The Flying Inn?
It's about an attempted Islamic invasion of England.
12 posted on 10/07/2001 9:32:37 PM PDT by Goetz_von_Berlichingen
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To: Cicero



USMC marching chant, circa 1980.

13 posted on 10/07/2001 9:35:24 PM PDT by LibKill
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To: Cicero, Goetz_von_Berlichingen

14 posted on 10/08/2001 7:35:53 AM PDT by B-Chan
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To: B-Chan
I couldn't read all the captions under the flags on the sign, but you might consider adding a three-bar cross representing Eastern Orthodox Christians, since our ancestors have had to deal with Muslim expansionism for over 1,300 years already, and knew firsthand the terror and death that awaited those who fell into the black hole of Islamic conquest.
15 posted on 10/08/2001 7:45:29 AM PDT by wildandcrazyrussian
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To: wildandcrazyrussian
The Cross Golden on Field Scarlet is labeled "Orthodox". I can, just, read in on my 21" monitor. FWIW.


16 posted on 10/08/2001 7:53:30 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard
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To: ArrogantBustard
Thanks. If you know who constructed it, I wil send them a note to make the captions a bit bigger. I can't help but think that as this war spreads, it is going to be Christians (and Jews) in Asia and Africa who are going to bear the brunt of local "retaliatory" missions by Muslims.
17 posted on 10/08/2001 8:13:19 AM PDT by wildandcrazyrussian
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To: wildandcrazyrussian
The scarlet banner (second from right) bears the Chi-Rho cross and the caption "Orthodoxy." I'll make the graphic a bit bigger so it'll be more easily read. Sorry for the confusion.
18 posted on 10/08/2001 9:09:38 AM PDT by B-Chan
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To: B-Chan
Oops. The Ch-Rho flag is obviously the second one from the left, not the right. Bear with me -- it's Monday...
19 posted on 10/08/2001 9:10:44 AM PDT by B-Chan
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To: B-Chan, Cicero, Goetz_von_Berlichingen
Nice image B-Chan. My sentiments exactly.

on a related note,has anyone commented on Usama's right hand man's words in the tape released yesterday regarding "We will not allow another Spain to happen"

I have seen no one in our media pick up on this at all. It's not really suprising I suppose but I still find it amazing that these folks are seriously still harboring a serious grudge over Islam being driven out of the Iberian penninsula some 609 years ago. Until this recent tragedy I never realized what a debt we owe to Ferdinand and Isabella.

God bless.

20 posted on 10/08/2001 10:49:57 AM PDT by wardaddy
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