28 March 2011

Souls You Hardly Save

The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
To no good man is told.

The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark. . .

The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die. . .

But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?

--The Blessed Virgin to King Alfred, in G.K. Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse


Rachel said...

I've always loved that poem. You can find a free amateur recording of it on librivox.org.

I think it's no coincidence that in the West, where our civilization was shaped by Christianity, the villains in many of our stories commit the sin of wanting to know everything... just like our first parents eating from the tree of knowledge. But the men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

thetimman said...


So glad to hear from you! I hope you are well and you are in my prayers.

Mortifying my curiosity is a constant penance.

God bless you.

Rachel said...

Thanks, Tinman! I concluded that religious life is not my vocation and now I'm back in California figuring out what to do with myself, so your prayers are certainly appreciated. :) I'm glad for the time I spent with the Adorers-- they're wonderful.