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Friday, October 10, 2014

"Fighting the Long Defeat"...

is a poem written in honor of some of the most famous and beloved literary minds, all of whom happened to be Catholics/High Anglicans and British subjects (and, of course, being residents of a teeny-tiny island, they had of way of mixing, mingling, and being inspired by each other!). Another main thing that connected them was the ceaseless resilience and hopefulness that runs through their intense and thought-provoking literary masterpieces, based on their Christian understanding that The Passion must come before The Resurrection.

Fighting the Long Defeat

Why do our stories
March on before us?
Those who remember them
Oft times ignore us
But our presence is there;
Our spirit-borne breath
Enlivens each telling
Defying our death


It is that! It is Chesterton!
The scorning, laughing at the grave
The fight for souls we hardly save
Fading, fading…
The baking, burning of the cakes
To hold fast for a red mark’s sake
Fighting, fighting…

It is that! It is Tolkien!
The crawling, grasping of hot stones
The faint recall of hearth and home
Fading, fading…
There’s fire spewing from the earth
The force of will, last thing of worth
Fighting, fighting…

It is that! It is Lewis!
The clawing, gasping on the stone
The ice-queen’s plunge, the final groan
Fading, fading…
There’s winter’s claim upon the land
A ransomed brother breaks her wand
Fighting, fighting…

It is that! It is Noyes!
The vengeful ride along the road
The highwayman dies in his blood
Fading, fading...
There's magic in each windy gust
Bringing back the brigand's ghost
Fighting, fighting...

It is that! It is Jacques!
The pleading, blocking of the foe
The barbed tail swings, the monk’s laid low
Fading, fading…
A warrior mouse from a tapestry
His challenge made, the bell swings free
Fighting, fighting…


Why do our stories
March on to lead men?
I suppose we all knew
Someday they would need them
Our breath is ablaze
Warming hearts with the heat;
For our heroes claim triumph
Through the longest defeat

"For our heroes claim triumph/Through the longest defeat..."


  1. Ballad of the White Horse, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Redwall I recognize, but who is this Noyes? Stirring poems, focusing on Cluny's tail is a nice bit of metonymy. Bravo!

  2. Hi, Merry Monarchist!

    I was referring to Alfred Noyes, British ambassador and poet, also a convert to Catholicism. He is one of my all time favorites of the English literary world, and wrote such stirring romantic ballads as "The Highwayman", "A Song of Sherwood", "Victory", and "The Lost Battle", among many others! The one I am paraphrasing above is "The Highwayman." I heartily recommend you look him up and read him for yourself!