June 04, 2008


I'd never read Chesterton's ballad Lepanto, and knew only the general contours concerning the battle itself. But when Catholic Answers gave me this 3-set CD on the subject for pledging $15 a month, I was ready to listen, which I did on a recent drive to Cincinnati. It was an enjoyable experience.

While the triumphalism was embarrassing in the beginning (did I imagine the disdain in the voice of the narrator when the word "Protestant" was uttered or was I too sensitive for the sake of my evangelical wife who was likely listening while engaged in her laptop?) the story quickly picked up steam and which was capped by a reading of Chesterton's ode. Now I'm tempted to get Ahlquist's book which is said to explain some of the more obscure references. The evocative line "The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes" seems to hint of sola scriptura and the battles over interpretation.

A contemporary of Chesterton's, Louis Untermeyer, wrote in 1920 that "Chesterton the prose-paradoxer, is a delightful product of a skeptical age. But it is Chesterton the poet who is more likely to outlive it." I doubt that's true, but then in 1920 I don't think most people though poetry would be as marginalized as it has become.

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