Гилберт Кит Честертон
The Ballad of the White Horse

"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 men of the East may search the scrolls
For sure fates and fame,
But the men that drink the blood of God

Go singing to their shame.
"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.
"The wise men know all evil things
Under the twisted trees,
Where the perverse in pleasure pine

And men are weary of green wine
And sick of crimson seas.
"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?"
Even as she spoke she was not,

Nor any word said he,
He only heard, still as he stood
Under the old night's nodding hood,
The sea-folk breaking down the wood
Like a high tide from sea.

He only heard the heathen men,
Whose eyes are blue and bleak,
Singing about some cruel thing
Done by a great and smiling king
In daylight on a deck.

He only heard the heathen men,
Whose eyes are blue and blind,
Singing what shameful things are done
Between the sunlit sea and the sun
When the land is left behind.

BOOK II. THE GATHERING OF THE CHIEFS

Up across windy wastes and up
Went Alfred over the shaws,
Shaken of the joy of giants,
The joy without a cause.

In the slopes away to the western bays,
Where blows not ever a tree,
He washed his soul in the west wind
And his body in the sea.

And he set to rhyme his ale-measures,
And he sang aloud his laws,
Because of the joy of the giants,
The joy without a cause.

The King went gathering Wessex men,
As grain out of the chaff
The few that were alive to die,
Laughing, as littered skulls that lie
After lost battles turn to the sky
An everlasting laugh.

The King went gathering Christian men,
As wheat out of the husk;
Eldred, the Franklin by the sea,
And Mark, the man from Italy,
And Colan of the Sacred Tree,
From the old tribe on Usk.

The rook croaked homeward heavily,
The west was clear and warm,
The smoke of evening food and ease
Rose like a blue tree in the trees
When he came to Eldred's farm.
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