LEPANTO-Chesterton experts? Help

I recently had this query and wondered ,whether anyone here could answer concerning Chesterton’s poem.

I hope I do not bother you asking for a little help in a matter that could appear trivial but has some importance to me. I have already ask our mutual fb-friend Joseph Galvin but he has my same perplexities.
I am a fan of G.K.C. and I especially love his great poem “Lepanto”. My problem is I am not sure I understand lines 19-20, that is:

"The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,"

This refers to Don John of Austria, the heroic leader of the Christian fleet, whom the poet previously calls “the last knight of Europe”. So I understand why he calls him a “troubadour”, that is a poet, meaning he was the last romantic hero, I think.
What is not clear to me is the matter regarding the bird. Did the bird sing to him? What does that mean? Then, who went singing southward, the troubadour or the bird? However, and this my is main question, what does it mean that he or it went singing southward?
Can you help me? What do you think? Is the problem my incomplete knowledge of English or a metaphor I do not understand or an allusion to facts in history or in the life of the hero which I ignore?
Thank you for your time. Good wishes,

My reply would be that the bird singing is the Word of God and the bird image the mediaeval one of the falcon bing the link between the courtly lover and his unttainable love, nevertheless a link. This was a knightly allusion in he Middle Ages. Don John was not yet united with the Father and yet ‘sung to’-or could it be the dove of the Holy Spirit, telling Don John to travel south. I am not a Chesterton scholar but have studied mediaeval verse. What do others think?:shrug:

I’ve been a Chesterton collector and student for around 45+ years. Wrote a paper on “Lepanto” in college. But i didn’t treat that line or image in particular.

My take on it has always been that the bird was a flight of Chesterton’s poetic fancy, and stood, if anything, for the call to the Crusades, to go south to follow the Cross. The following lines tie those to the new Crusade of Don Juan and the Pope’s call.

I would hesitate to associate the image with courtly love, in spite of the “troubadour” and “southward”, as toward southern France, because I would then be put in mind of the Albigensians. A Crusade connection there, but not one I think Chesterton would want to make.


Thank you, GKC, for your answer (and thanks to my friend Evelyn too, of course).
Dear GKC, since Chesterton is one of my favourite writers, I hope it will be possible for me to get your kind help again in the future.
Good bye.
Rodolfo Caroselli:thumbsup:

I am glad, if I was a help. And would be happy to try to be useful again.


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