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Hunting the Dragon

Hunting the Dragon
By G.K. 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 baldric slung;
Never was world so wild and fair
As what went by on the wind,
Never such fields we left behind:

     For this is the best of a rest for men
      That man 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.