The World’s Tragedy

I come, I come, o sons of men, my triumph roars at last,

Yet with the weight of this my staff I scarce can tread so fast.

‘Twas worth the patient wandering years, the fight with want and sin,

To see, with pomp and crowded streets, my kingdom ushered in.

My mantle trails along the stones, man’s best imperial crown

Sits hard about my brows – so hard, methinks, the blood runs down.


I come, I come, o sons of men, Jerusalem I come,

My mighty men the halt and lame, my counsellors the dumb.

Raised on the highest steeps of time, with power to bless and ban,

I come, I come, o sons of men, the crownèd son of man.

O brothers, sisters, little ones, whose homes were poor as mine,

My heart went to you through the mists of all the dreams divine.


I dropped the crust, I siezed the staff, I trod the homeless wold,

No king of all my foes could fling the hateful taunt of gold.

I sought the meanest lives that felt the Father’s rain and sun,

I bent above the harlot’s shame, and she and I were one,

Lower and lower down I bent, and still my heart was full.

O brothers, sisters, broken ones the world’s hard judges slay,

O captives at the gibbet’s foot, I join you too today.


O brothers, sisters, toiling ones hereafter that shall rise,

To break the glebe in other lands, to sweat ‘neath other skies,

That age’s dust and sage’s doubt may turn your hearts from me,

That you in glare of newer times, again may join the cry

With rulers and with men of wealth, the shout of “Crucify!”,

That yet again the noise may come, the lazy sophist’s scorn,

That ye too may deride me dead, whom I have loved unborn.


~GK Chesterton (ca. 1893)


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