By Harold Bloom (Editor)
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Additional resources for G. K. Chesterton (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
Here Chesterton imitates the conclusion of “The Song of Roland,” which he praised in an introduction to a 1919 edition of “Roland” (reprinted in The Common Man): “That high note of the forlorn hope, of a host at bay and a battle against odds without end, is the note on which the great French epic ends. I know nothing more moving in poetry than that strange and unexpected end, that splendidly inconclusive conclusion. Charlemagne, the great Christian emperor, has at last established his empire in quiet, has done justice almost in the manner of the day of judgment, and sleeps as it were upon his throne with a peace almost like that of Paradise.
A number of false touches are eliminated, including these stanzas: His spear was broken in his hand But his belt bore a sword; His heart was broken in his breast But he cried unto Our Lord. He cried to Our Lady and Our Lord Seven times in the sun And the boar and the black wolf answered him And the tears began to run. Rhyme and Reason 47 False naïveté of this sort does not appear in the ﬁnished poem, whose refrains and slight archaisms are perfectly modulated. Chesterton avoided the great obstacle of this form, the “ye olde” style of which even Coleridge could not thoroughly purge the “Rime,” what Chesterton called “a swagger of antiquity, like the needless outrage of calling the Mariner a Marinere” (Ill.
13. Eye Witness, Sept. 7, 1911. 14. 57). 15. The last line is a ﬁne example of the compression and depth in these simple stanzas. The ﬁrst mystery of the Sacrament is that bread becomes God; but a further mystery links this banquet table to the sacriﬁcial altar. Calvary and the Last Supper meet by necessity in the Mass, for the Eucharist is both Sacrament and Sacriﬁce. ” 16. Here Chesterton imitates the conclusion of “The Song of Roland,” which he praised in an introduction to a 1919 edition of “Roland” (reprinted in The Common Man): “That high note of the forlorn hope, of a host at bay and a battle against odds without end, is the note on which the great French epic ends.
G. K. Chesterton (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) by Harold Bloom (Editor)