The Ballad of the White Horse (1911): The Patriotism and Piety of Chesterton’s Hagiography and Historiography

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  1. How are Chesterton’s characteristic themes of adventure and the fairy tale present in the dedication?

  2. What do we learn about G.K.’s love of Frances, his wife in this section?

Book I “The Vision of the King”

  1. Why does the poem suggest that for Alfred “the end of the world was long ago”?

  2. How does Alfred’s vision of Mary alter his understanding, emotions, and volition of his tragic circumstances?

  3. What is Alfred’s attitude towards Heaven?

  4. How does Mary contrast the “wise” East with the humble Christian West?

Book II “The Gathering of the Chiefs”

  1. What are the particular temptations and assets of the Saxon Eldred, the Italian Mark, and the Celtic Colan?

  2. What does each man’s home tell you about him and his vestigial cultural remains?

  3. Likewise, in each instance what does Alfred reveal of himself and his vision, and how do the three chiefs respond?

  4. What does the combination of the three cultures—Saxon, Latin, and Celtic—reveal about Englishness? What additional element does Alfred add as king?

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