Гилберт Кит Честертон
The Ballad of the White Horse

And he read, writ with an iron pen,

That God had wearied of Wessex men
And given their country, field and fen,
To the devils of the sea.
And he saw in a little picture,
Tiny and far away,

His mother sitting in Egbert's hall,
And a book she showed him, very small,
Where a sapphire Mary sat in stall
With a golden Christ at play.
It was wrought in the monk's slow manner,

From silver and sanguine shell,
Where the scenes are little and terrible,
Keyholes of heaven and hell.
In the river island of Athelney,
With the river running past,

In colours of such simple creed
All things sprang at him, sun and weed,
Till the grass grew to be grass indeed
And the tree was a tree at last.
Fearfully plain the flowers grew,

Like the child's book to read,
Or like a friend's face seen in a glass;
He looked; and there Our Lady was,
She stood and stroked the tall live grass
As a man strokes his steed.

Her face was like an open word
When brave men speak and choose,
The very colours of her coat
Were better than good news.
She spoke not, nor turned not,

Nor any sign she cast,
Only she stood up straight and free,
Between the flowers in Athelney,
And the river running past.
One dim ancestral jewel hung

On his ruined armour grey,
He rent and cast it at her feet:
Where, after centuries, with slow feet,
Men came from hall and school and street
And found it where it lay.

"Mother of God," the wanderer said,
"I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.
"The gates of heaven are fearful gates

Worse than the gates of hell;
Not I would break the splendours barred
Or seek to know the thing they guard,
Which is too good to tell.
"But for this earth most pitiful,

This little land I know,
If that which is for ever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss,
Seeing the stranger go?
"When our last bow is broken, Queen,

And our last javelin cast,
Under some sad, green evening sky,
Holding a ruined cross on high,
Under warm westland grass to lie,
Shall we come home at last?"

And a voice came human but high up,
Like a cottage climbed among
The clouds; or a serf of hut and croft
That sits by his hovel fire as oft,
But hears on his old bare roof aloft

A belfry burst in song.
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gain,
The heaviest hind may easily
Come silently and suddenly

Upon me in a lane.
"And any little maid that walks
In good thoughts apart,
May break the guard of the Three Kings
And see the dear and dreadful things

I hid within my heart.
"The meanest man in grey fields gone
Behind the set of sun,
Heareth between star and other star,
Through the door of the darkness fallen ajar,

The council, eldest of things that are,
The talk of the Three in One.
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