Saturday, February 04, 2017

The Rolling English Road

Image result for happy drunkWho but G. K. Chesterton could write a poem about a drunk, that defines the history and character of England, shines a light on mortality, opens a doorway to heaven, and is alliterative, humorous, war-like, and beautiful? I love the final stanza.

The Rolling English Road
by G.K.Chesterton
Image result for english walking path
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.
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Beachy Head: the scenic route to Birmingham.

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.

Image result for glastonbury
Glastonbury is the Woodstock of England,
well west of London, while Goodwin Sands is
a sand bank known for sinking ships in the channel.
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.

Image result for goodwin sandsMy 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.
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Kensal Green

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