Here at HLS, we are always striving to increase our understanding — some days we discuss the art of the 3-4 defense, and others (like today) we expound on the liberal arts.
In 1930, University President Father J. Hugh O’Donnell invited G. K. Chesterton to Notre Dame to conduct a series of lectures. Coincidentally, he was present at the Dedication Game of Notre Dame Stadium and wrote a poem to commemorate the occasion. Let us pause now and see how this work illuminates the current state of Notre Dame football.
Causa Nostrae Laetitiae [The Cause of our Joy]
(Dedicated to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana)
In the opening stanza, G. K. Chesterton has peered outside the space-time continuum and describes last Saturday’s ballgame.
There uprose a golden giant
On the gilded house of Nero (Michigan Stadium)
Even his far-flung flaming shadow and his image swollen large (on that hated Jumbotron, obviously)
Looking down on the dry whirlpool
Of the round Arena spinning
As a chariot-wheel goes spinning; and the chariots at the charge.
(I’d describe weasel movements as “waddling” rather than spinning — but that’s why he’s the poet)
And the molten monstrous visage (Unsure whether this is Brent Musberger or Marshall Mathers)
Saw the pageants, saw the torments, (the lost Rose Bowls and B1G titles)
Down the golden dust undazzled saw the gladiators go,
Heard the cry in the closed desert
Te salutant morituri, (pretty sure this is Latin for #NDFBisdeterminedtokillme)
As the slaves of doom (Walmart Wolverines) went stumbling, shuddering, to the shades below.
“Lord of Life, of lyres and laughter,
Those about to die salute thee,
At thy godlike fancy feeding men with bread and beasts with men,
But for us the Fates point deathward
In a thousand thumbs thrust downward, (the alumni express their displeasure)
And the Dog of Hell is roaring through the lions in their den.” (#ALLABOARD)
I have seen, where a strange country
Opened its secret plains about me, (we must assume these plains are natural grass)
One great golden dome stand lonely with its golden image, one
Seen afar, in strange fulfillment,
Through the sunlit Indian summer (insert “South Bend Winter” joke here)
That Apocalyptic portent that has clothed her with the Sun. (this was before students outfitted themselves in those awkward yellow The Shirts)
She too looks on the Arena
Sees the gladiators grapple,
She whose names are Seven Sorrows (our red zone offense) and the Cause of All Our Joy, (our defensive line)
Sees the pit that stank with slaughter
Scoured to make the courts of morning
For the cheers of jesting kindred and the scampering of a boy. (GAIII? Amir? Hopefully Chuck Martin will decide soon!)
“Queen of Death and deadly weeping
Those about to live salute thee,
Youth untroubled; youth untutored (#LOLSEC); hateless war and harmless mirth
And the New Lord’s larger largesse (pregame tailgating)
Holier bread and happier circus, (postgame Mass)
Since the Queen of Sevenfold Sorrow has brought joy upon the earth.” <– (use this with the Excise Police when they attempt to squash your tailgate)
Burns above the broad arena
Where the whirling centuries circle,
Burns the Sun-clothed on the summit, golden-sheeted, golden shod, (Even Chesterton loves the Shamrock Series helmets & shoes)
Like a sun-burst on the mountains,
Like the flames upon the forest
Of the sunbeams of the sword-blades of the Gladiators of God. (the dazzling, pasty-white sea of arms during the Celtic Chant)
And I saw them shock the whirlwind
Of the World of dust and dazzle: (Stanford goal line stand)
And thrice they stamped, a thunderclap; and thrice the sand-wheel swirled;
And thrice they cried like thunder (crowd noise used to resemble thunderclaps; now we merely jingle keys)
On Our Lady of the Victories,
The Mother of the Master of the Masterers of the World.
“Queen of Death and Life undying
Those about to live salute thee; (it’s not a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision)
Not the crawlers with the cattle; looking deathward with the swine, (sorry, Lane Kiffin)
But the shout upon the mountains
Of the men that live for ever
Who are free of all things living but a Child; and He was thine.” (“And our hearts forever….”)
For more (serious) details on G. K. Chesterton’s guest lectures at Notre Dame, read this piece from Notre Dame Magazine and this from ND Archives. Thanks also to @1stdownMoses for his assistance in interpretation.
Powered by SC schadenfreude, husband to Mrs. IrishElvis (not pictured), rabble rouser. TCB.