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The Napoleon of Notting Hill

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(1904)



Dedicated To Hilaire Belloc



For every tiny town or place

God made the stars especially;

Babies look up with owlish face

And see them tangled in a tree:

You saw a moon from Sussex Downs,

A Sussex moon, untravelled still,

I saw a moon that was the town's,

The largest lamp on Campden Hill.



Yea; Heaven is everywhere at home

The big blue cap that always fits,

And so it is (be calm; they come

To goal at last, my wandering wits),

So is it with the heroic thing;

This shall not end for the world's end,

And though the sullen engines swing,

Be you not much afraid, my friend.



This did not end by Nelson's urn

Where an immortal England sits--

Nor where your tall young men in turn

Drank death like wine at Austerlitz.

And when the pedants bade us mark

What cold mechanic happenings

Must come; our souls said in the dark,

"Belike; but there are likelier things."



Likelier across these flats afar

These sulky levels smooth and free

The drums shall crash a waltz of war

And Death shall dance with Liberty;

Likelier the barricades shall blare

Slaughter below and smoke above,

And death and hate and hell declare

That men have found a thing to love.



Far from your sunny uplands set

I saw the dream; the streets I trod

The lit straight streets shot out and met

The starry streets that point to God.

This legend of an epic hour

A child I dreamed, and dream it still,

Under the great grey water-tower

That strikes the stars on Campden Hill
.--G. K. C.







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All hail the Red Lion of Notting Hill

That was odd. It was like a rather implausible boys' story with a weird mystical bit at the end. It has no female characters. G.K. Chesterton just doesn't do them. It was very London-centric. In those regards it was reminiscent to The Man Who Was Thursday. If you're an eleven-year-old boy, you might love it. If not, you might be left nonplussed. The book maybe has something to say about the dangers in inflaming nationalistic passions, or possibly it comments on the conflict between modernization versus long-standing community life. One explicit theme was the taking of serious matters jokingly and of jokes seriously.

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