The Ballad of the White Horse

G. K. Chesterton

The Ballad of the White Horse, by G. K. Chesterton - click to see full size image

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The Ballad of the White Horse is an epic poem by G. K. Chesterton, first published in 1911. The poem tells the story of King Alfred the Great, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex from 871 to 899, and how he was able to defeat the invading Danes at the Battle of Ethandun with the aid of the Virgin Mary. The poem is divided into eight parts, beginning with a description of the White Horse of the White Horse Vale and how it has seen untold ages pass by, and with the central theme of the poem being the struggle between Christianity and paganism. Alfred sees himself as a defender of Christian civilization, and his battles against the Danes are portrayed as a struggle between the forces of light and darkness. In a prefatory note, Chesterton notes that his poem is not historical per se, and that he has chosen to place the site of the Battle of Ethandune in the Vale of the White Horse, despite the lack of concrete evidence for this placement, and also that he has included legends about Alfred, even if they are historically unlikely. In addition to its religious and historical themes, the poem is also characterized by its vivid imagery and colorful descriptions of battle and landscape.

This book has 17,472 words, 98 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1911.

Production notes: This ebook of The Ballad of the White Horse was published by Global Grey on the 20th February 2021, and updated on the 22nd February 2023. The artwork used for the cover is 'Portrait of Alfred the Great' - by Samuel Woodforde.

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