Monday, May 08, 2006

A Picture from Notre Dame - and GKC

Some friends over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping have made a very interesting and Chestertonian picture which I thought you might like to see. They are also hoping to write a novel about the school - I look forward to reading it, for it has the possibility of being very Chestertonian...

Chesterton lectured at Notre Dame, and went to see one of the - uh - sporting events there. He wrote a poem about it, which is somehow like this picture. It is one of his great works, and deserves study, though it may be just as well to yell it while you're having a cold one... (Hey, what a GOOD idea! Blogging is thirsty work.)

--Dr. Thursday
The Arena
by G. K. Chesterton.
Causa Nostrae Laetitae
Dedicated to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana

There uprose a golden giant
On the gilded house of Nero
Even his far-flung flaming shadow and his image swollen large
Looking down on the dry whirlpool
Of the round Arena Spinning
As a chariot-wheel goes spinning; and the chariots at the charge.

And the molten monstrous visage
Saw the pageants. saw the torments.
Down the golden dust undazzled saw the gladiators go,
Heard the cry in the closed desert,
Te salutant morituri,
As the slaves of doom went stumbling, shuddering, to the shades below.

"Lord of Life, of lyres and laughter,
Those about to die salute thee,
At thy godlike fancy feeding men with bread and beasts with men,
But for us the Fates point deathward
In a thousand thumbs thrust downward,
And the Dog of Hell is roaring through the lions in their den."

I have seen, where a strange country
Opened its secret plains about me,
One great golden dome stand lonely with its golden image, one
Seen afar, in strange fulfillment,
Through the sunlit Indian summer
That Apocalyptic portent that has clothed her with the Sun.

She too looks on the Arena,
Sees the gladiators in grapple,
She whose names are Seven Sorrows and the Cause of All Our Joy,
Sees the pit that stank with slaughter
Scoured to make the courts of morning
For the cheers of jesting kindred and the scampering of a boy.

"Queen of Death and deadly weeping Those about to live salute thee,
Youth untroubled; youth untortured; hateless war and harmless mirth
And the New Lord's larger largesse
Holier bread and happier circus,
Since the Queen of Sevenfold Sorrow has brought joy upon the earth."

Burns above the broad arena
Where the whirling centuries circle,
Burns the Sun-clothed on the summit, golden-sheeted, golden shod,
Like a sun-burst on the mountains,
Like the flames upon the forest
Of the sunbeams of the sword-blades of the Gladiators of God.

And I saw them shock the whirlwind
Of the World of dust and dazzle:
And thrice they stamped, a thunderclap; and thrice the sand-wheel swirled;
And thrice they cried like thunder
On Our Lady of the Victories,
The Mother of the Master of the Masterers of the World.

"Queen of Death and Life undying
Those about to live salute thee;
Not the crawlers with the cattle; looking deathward with the swine,
But the shout upon the mountains
Of the men that live for ever
Who are free of all things living but a Child; and He was thine."

This can be found in CW10:108-9, available from The American Chesterton Society. The footnote to this poem reads: In 1930 Chesterton lectured at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Two of the things that impressed him were the football games and the golden-domed church of the Blessed Virgin on the campus.


At 08 May, 2006 20:46, Blogger Matthew said...

Well, perhaps I'm being over-optimistic. I'd love to write a novel about ND someday, and I plan on considering the question (and also my interest in fiction) more actively this summer, seeing as how I will have a lot of free time in the evenings now that I'm graduating. But it's by no means a sure thing. Still, it's good to know I'd have a reader!

At 13 May, 2006 21:26, Blogger rhapsody said...

Hi Dr. Thursday,

Off topic- I referred someone to your blog with a question about 'fractals' in nature-

I don't know what they are! Unless it would be something like a rainbow... ?

Anyway, he commented on my latest posting, if you want to comment there.

Thank you!

At 14 May, 2006 17:46, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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