King Alfred and the White Horse

Yesterday, 26 October, is commemorated as the death anniversary of King Alfred, usually known as Alfred the Great.

uffington horse_sm
The White Horse, or Uffington Horse, on the Berkshire Downs

 

G.K. Chesterton wrote a long poem, The Ballad of the White Horse, published in book form, (you can read it here), in which he describes a message King Alfred received in a vision of the Virgin Mary. He was at that time besieged by the Danes and he called for divine guidance or help to defeat the invasion. Now, I don’t share Chesterton’s Catholic faith but the poem is an inspiring one and it seems to foresee the events of our present day in a cryptic way.

Elisabeth G. Wolfe describes Chesterton’s poem as ‘Literature you should know,’ and offers much more detail here.:

“Civilization is under attack. An army masses to destroy Christians and their hated book learning, to plunder their wealth and ravish their women. Unless these savages are stopped, the lights may go out for good… but the Christian forces are few and scattered. Hope for victory seems dim.

This plot sounds like it’s ripped from the headlines, and it could have been—twelve centuries ago.”

The rest is at the link.

As to the horse, it and the other chalk figures similar to it are fascinating in themselves.

The Mystery of the White Horse of Uffington

Second chalk figure discovered near Uffington white horse

Against all odds, England’s massive chalk horse has survived 3,000 years

The odds may seem to be against England (that is, the people) surviving today’s invasion but let’s hope that like the Uffington white hose, England and the English people will defy the apparent odds.

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