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Hear the Voice of Hilaire Belloc

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Published on Dec 29, 2008

Hilaire Belloc was a close friend of GK Chesterton. Together they founded a weekly political newspaper called "The New Witness" in which Gilbert's brother, Cecil, also played a big part. GB Shaw often jokingly referred to it as "the Chesterbelloc". The two were strong propagators of distributism, a medieval, anti-capitalist, and anti-Fabian socialist philosophy. But perhaps Chesterton and Belloc are best remembered today by Christians since they did much to promulgate the Catholic faith.

Here are the only recordings known to contain Belloc's voice brought to you in their entirety. The recordings were of him singing four of his songs/poems and were recorded in 1932. They were first broadcast in 1954 (an air-check of this broadcast would be in public domain) and eventually came out on a 45rpm record in 1970.


1) Tarantella

Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Glancing,
Dancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in--
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;
Miranda,
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.


2) Ha'nacker Mill

Sally is gone that was so kindly,
Sally is gone from Ha'nacker Hill
And the Briar grows ever since then so blindly;
And ever since then the clapper is still...
And the sweeps have fallen from Ha'nacker Mill.

Ha'nacker Hill is in Desolation:
Ruin a-top and a field unploughed.
And Spirits that call on a fallen nation,
Spirits that loved her calling aloud,
Spirits abroad in a windy cloud.

Spirits that call and no one answers --
Ha'nacker's down and England's done.
Wind and Thistle for pipe and dancers,
And never a ploughman under the Sun:
Never a ploughman. Never a one.


3) The Islands (Cruise of the Nona)
(I haven't been able to find the words to this one. I believe it was a poem that came toward the end of his fictional book: _Cruise of the Nona_. If anyone has a copy and could send me the words I would be much obliged).


4) The Winged Horse

Its ten years ago today you turned me out o doors
To cut my feet on flinty lands and stumble down the shores,
And I thought about the all-in-all, oh more than I can tell!
But I caught a horse to ride upon and I rode him very well,
He had a flame behind the eyes of him and wings upon his side.
And I ride, and I ride!

I rode him out of Wantage and I rode him up the hill,
And there I saw the Beacon in the morning standing still,
Inkpen and Hackpen and southward and away
High through the middle airs in the strengthening of the day,
And there I saw the channel-glint and England in her pride.
And I ride, and I ride!

And once a-top of Lambourne down toward the hill of Clere
I saw the Host of Heaven and Michael with his spear,
And Turpin out of Gascony and Charlemagne and the Lord,
And Roland of the marches with his hand upon his sword
For the time he should have need of it, and forty more beside.
And I ride, and I ride!

For you that took the all-in-all the things you left were three.
A loud voice for singing and keen eyes to see,
And a spouting well of joy within that never yet was dried!
And I ride.

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