"Lepanto" is one of the most rousing of modern ballad narratives.- Anticipating Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo" and other chants of modern poetry, Chesterton retells the story of the Crusaders under the leadership of Don John, who commanded the combined Christian navies in 1571 and broke the power of the Turks; he revivifies the details, changing them from dry historical data into drama. The syllables beat as though on brass; the armies sing, the feet tramp, the drums snarl, and-the tides of marching Crusaders roll resonantly out of the lines. No discussion of Chesterton would be complete without a tribute to his epigrammatic power. "The Donkey" and "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" are noteworthy examples of such condensation. As a politician and paradoxical essayist, Chesterton will have an interest for future critics, but Chesterton the poet will outlive his period.


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
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
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 2 is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall.
The last lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was
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,l 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
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to
Black Az-rael and Ariel and Ammon 3 on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Mutiplex 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
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
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the gray 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
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the
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 gray seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labor 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
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
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.

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
He sees as in a mirror o n 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 plumed lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of crown, black-bearded
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a laboring 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 morn-
ing hunly
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
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 labor 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 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.)