by Kathy Rinker
I finished reading Seton’s edition of Ballad of the White Horse last week. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. Now, I am by no means a connoisseur of the fine art of composing and understanding poetry. However, by the end of the book I felt that I was on my way to becoming so with Ballad.
With the in- depth footnotes on every page and the incredible amount of explanation provided in the margins and at the beginning of each book, I was able not only to understand the delightful Ballad, but also found it much more enthralling.
To some people, poetry can be a bit daunting. Several times, I have seen one of my friends pick up a book of poetry and then immediately put it down. However, if I am lucky, I can provide her with some insight, encouraging her to pick it back up and give it another go.
What I am saying is to not let Ballad daunt you even if you are sometimes a bit overwhelmed by poetry. You have experts to guide you along the way on every page. This edition of Ballad has a way of wrapping its readers in an imaginary warm blanket. It almost makes you want to sit by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate.
Ballad has a very engaging plot and thought-provoking characters. The Saxon King Alfred the Great has been conquered by the Danes. However, he undergoes a spiritual transformation, a conversion of heart, and comes back to smite the Danes and take back the land that is rightfully his.
The story is told with such animation that my heart was pounding while reading as I waited with anticipation for the outcome. King Alfred is a character who is noble by birth but, more importantly, noble in virtue.
Chesterton provides a wonderful story in which we can examine human nature, sin, God’s love and His mercy. Those are just a smattering of what insight we can gain by reading this book.
I don’t want to give too much away and lessen the powerful experience I am sure you will have when you read it. However, I do want to point out one more important factor. Ballad was written in lyrical form. So it has a sing-song quality to it and is delightful to read out loud to little people.
While the specifics might be lost on some of them, it still has a way of capturing the little person’s ear. So I have found that young and old alike can enjoy Ballad. Chesterton had this way of capturing the attention of a wide audience through his power of expression.
How about giving Seton’s edition of Ballad of the White Horse a try in your own home? I hope it is a successful adventure! Once you have helped King Alfred conquer the Danes, then you may go on to conquer the rest of Chesterton’s writings!
Just you wait and see!