Poems found in the Essays of Hilaire Belloc—’First and Last’ (R7)

While reading the prose of some writers, poems seem to leap off the page at you… Hilaire Belloc is one such great writer that does it for me…



will have pomp & mystery
to surround seemingly important things;
therefore the historians must
(consciously or not)
tend to strut

to quote solemn authorities
in their support;
to make out that the vulgar
are unworthy of their confidence

the plague of footnotes—
a sort of spiked paling
to warn off trespassers

after Hilaire Belloc:
On Historical Evidence
in First and Last


as you take the road to Paradise

about half-way there
you come to an inn
which even as inns go is admirable

you go into the garden of it
and see the great trees and the wall
of Box Hill shrouding you all round

it is beautiful enough (in all conscience)
to arrest you without the need of history
or any admixture of pride of place

but as you sit in a seat in the garden
you are sitting where Nelson sat
when he said goodbye to Emma;

if you move a yard or two you will be
where Keats sat biting his pen
thinking out some new line of poem

after Hilaire Belloc:
The Absence of the Past
in First and Last

our hope of immortality

resides in this:
that we are persons;

half our frailties
proceed from a misapprehension
of the awful responsibilities
personality involves

or else a cowardly ignorance
of its powers
of self-government

after Hilaire Belloc:
St Patrick
in First and Last


the poet

in some way
it is difficult to understand
(unless we admit
that poets are seers)

brings out the inner parts
of things and presents them
in such a way that
we cannot refuse

but accept—
how the mere choice
& rhythm of words
should produce

so magical an effect
no one has yet been able
to comprehend—least of all
the poets themselves

after Hilaire Belloc
in First and Last

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