A Party Question
by G. K. Chesterton
The golden roses of the glorious mysteries
Grew wild as cowslips on the common land
Hers, who was more humanity's than history's,
Until you banned them as a badge is banned.
The silver roses of the sorrow of Mary,
And the red roses of her royal mirth,
Were free; till you, turned petulant and wary,
Went weeding wild flowers from your mother-earth
Mother of Man; the Mother of the Maker;
Silently speaking as the flowering trees,
What made of her a striker and a breaker
Who spoke no scorn even of men like these?
She named no hypocrites a viper race,
She nailed no tyrant for a vulpine cur,
She flogged no hucksters from the holy place;
Why was your new wise world in dread of her?
Whom had she greeted and not graced in greeting,
Whom did she touch and touch not his peace;
And what are you, that made of such a meeting
Quarrels and quibbles and a taunt to tease?
Who made that inn a fortress? What strange blindness
Beat on the open door of that great heart,
Stood on its guard against unguarded kindness
And made the sun a secret set apart?
By this we measure you upon your showing
So many shields to her who bore no sword,
All your unnatural nature and the flowing
Of sundering rivers now so hard to ford.
We know God's priests had drunken iniquity,
Through our sins too did such offences come,
Mad Martin's bell, the mouth of anarchy,
Knox and the horror of that hollow drum.
We know the tale; half truth and double treason,
Borgia and Torquemada in the throng,
Bad men who had no right to their right reason,
Good men who had good reason to be wrong.
But when that tangled war our fathers waged
Stirred against her—then could we hear right well,
Through roar of men not wrongfully enraged,
The little hiss that only comes from hell.