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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.

TOPICS: Miscellaneous
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To: wardaddy
And some of us hold an even MORE serious grudge against Islam for having invaded Spain in the first place.

The Taliban mentality is set firmly in the Middle Ages. To them, the Reconquista counts as a current event.

21 posted on 10/08/2001 11:15:52 AM PDT by Goetz_von_Berlichingen
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To: wardaddy
Yes, I found the comment about Spain to be very interesting. A loss of hundreds of years ago still rankles the Muslims. We owe a great debt to Spain, which fought steadily for 800 years to evict the Muslim invaders from the Iberian peninsula. Granada fell and the last Islamic ruler was expelled in 1492...surely a year that now has two reasons to have a special resonance for Americans!
22 posted on 10/08/2001 11:27:53 AM PDT by livius
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To: Cicero

"Pax tibi Marce, Evangelista meus."

23 posted on 10/08/2001 11:41:48 AM PDT by Romulus
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To: livius, Goetz_von_Berlichingen
Indeed 1492 is a year for more than one celebration. I believe Santayana's old adage about history is quite appropriate for the here and now.
24 posted on 10/08/2001 12:10:20 PM PDT by wardaddy
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To: Goetz_von_Berlichingen
I'm sure you'll join with me Goetz, in saying to Usama and his right hand man about Spain: "Leck' mich am Arsch!"
25 posted on 10/08/2001 12:38:59 PM PDT by Andrew Byler
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To: Andrew Byler
26 posted on 10/08/2001 12:45:17 PM PDT by Goetz_von_Berlichingen
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To: Goetz_von_Berlichingen
People forget that the Moors conquered Spain from North Africa and drove the inhabitants into a small corner of the country in the mountains. The Reconquista was a long and bloody but hugely heroic work. Only the twisted mentality of the politically correct would say that we should give America back to the Indians but the Spaniards should be condemned for winning back their own native land from cruel and oppressive invaders.

I might add that, although I am a firm supporter of the Jews and of Israel, there were historical reasons why the Spaniards treated them harshly. In the long war to drive the Muslims from Spain, and to fend off their repeated incursions from the sea, with frequent piracy and slave-taking, the Jews often played both sides. As a result the Catholic Spaniards came to regard them as treacherous. Unfair, perhaps, but a great deal more understandable than the picture of Catholic antisemitism that is usually pushed today by our PC intellectuals.

27 posted on 10/09/2001 12:50:39 PM PDT by Cicero
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To: Cicero
Link to EWTN's Series on Chesterton...
G.K. Chesterton, the Apostle of Common Sense

Link to description of the Battle from Nafpaktos/Giorgios Rigas...
The Battle of Lepanto

Link to...
The Power of the Rosary - a Weapon Against Terrorism

28 posted on 10/07/2002 1:49:05 PM PDT by harbingr
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To: wardaddy; livius
If I am not mistaken, Cervantes (Author of Don Quixote) lost his hand in this battle.

If anyone wants to read a great book about Christian Knights repelling a muslim invasion read "The Siege of Malta" by Ernle Bradford. Phenomenal read.

29 posted on 10/07/2002 1:55:15 PM PDT by MattinNJ
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To: MattinNJ
"The Siege of Malta" by Ernle Bradford

Added to "to read" list.

I'll also recommend
"Islam Unveiled"
by Robert Spenser (or Spencer)

I heard the author interviewed on The Michael Medved Show; sounds like a well-documented,
politically-incorrect (=honest) book about the greater aims and actions of Islam.
30 posted on 10/07/2002 2:01:43 PM PDT by VOA
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Thanks. I'll add it to my list

Oh, I made a slight mistake-the actual title is "Great Siege:Malta 1565."

I was reading about the Barbary Pirates last night. These sick twisted bastards were so bad that Jefferson, a true pacifist, sent a fleet to open a can of whip ass on them.

31 posted on 10/07/2002 2:12:13 PM PDT by MattinNJ
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To: MattinNJ
Thanks for the additional info. on the book. This helped me track it down at
Five-star average rating from six reviewers...pretty high praise.
For lurkers who are interested, here is the ponderous URL for the book:

And here is more info. on the "Islam Unveiled" book:

Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith
by Robert Spencer
Publisher: Encounter Books; ISBN: 1893554589; 1st edition (August 2002)

located at this ponderous URL:
32 posted on 10/07/2002 2:55:49 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Cicero
Pray the Rosary. 
Pray without ceasing.

33 posted on 10/07/2007 1:41:34 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

A good reminder on this anniversary.

34 posted on 10/07/2007 7:07:12 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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