Poems (Chesterton, 1915)/The Crusader Returns from Captivity
THE CRUSADER RETURNS FROM CAPTIVITY
I HAVE come forth alive from the land of purple and poison and glamour,
Where the charm is strong as the torture, being chosen to change the mind;
Torture of wordless dance and wineless feast without clamour,
Palace hidden in palace, garden with garden behind;
Women veiled in the sun, or bare as brass in the shadows,
And the endless eyeless patterns where each thing seems an eye. . . .
And my stride is on Caesar's sand where it slides to the English meadows,
To the last low woods of Sussex and the road that goes to Rye.
In the cool and careless woods the eyes of the eunuchs burned not,
But the wild hawk went before me, being free to return or roam,
The hills had broad unconscious backs; and the tree-tops turned not,
And the huts were heedless of me: and I knew I was at home.
And I saw my lady afar and her holy freedom upon her,
A head, without veil, averted, and not to be turned with charms,
And I heard above bannerets blown the intolerant trumpets of honour,
That usher with iron laughter the coming of Christian arms.
My shield hangs stainless still; but I shall not go where they praise it,
A sword is still at my side, but I shall not ride with the King.
Only to walk and to walk and to stun my soul and amaze it,
A day with the stone and the sparrow and every marvellous thing.
I have trod the curves of the Crescent, in the maze of them that adore it,
Curved around doorless chambers and unbeholden abodes,
But I walk in the maze no more; on the sign of the cross I swore it,
The wild white cross of freedom, the sign of the white cross-roads.
And the land shall leave me or take, and the Woman take me or leave me,
There shall be no more Night, or nightmares seen in a glass;
But Life shall hold me alive, and Death shall never deceive me
As long as I walk in England in the lanes that let me pass.