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The Hunting of the Dragon
Gilbert Keith Chesterton
When we went hunting the Dragon In the days when we were young, We tossed the bright world over our shoulder As bugle and baldrick slung; Never was world so wild and fair As what went by on the wind, Never such fields of paradise As the fields we left behind: For this is the best of a rest for men That men should rise and ride Making a flying fairyland Of market and country-side, Wings on the cottage, wings on the wood, Wings upon pot and pan, For the hunting of the Dragon That is the life of a man. For men grow weary of fairyland When the Dragon is a dream, And tire of the talking bird in the tree, The singing fish in the stream; And the wandering stars grow stale, grow stale, And the wonder is stiff with scorn; For this is the honour of fairyland And the following of the horn; Beauty on beauty called us back When we could rise and ride, And a woman looked out of every window As wonderful as a bride: And the tavern-sign as a tabard blazed, And the children cheered and ran, For the love of the hate of the Dragon That is the pride of a man. The sages called him a shadow And the light went out of the sun: And the wise men told us that all was well And all was weary and one: And then, and then, in the quiet garden, With never a weed to kill, We knew that his shining tail had shone In the white road over the hill: We knew that the clouds were flakes of flame, We knew that the sunset fire Was red with the blood of the Dragon Whose death is the world’s desire. For the horn was blown in the heart of the night That men should rise and ride, Keeping the tryst of a terrible jest Never for long untried; Drinking a dreadful blood for wine, Never in cup or can, The death of a deathless Dragon, That is the life of a man.