A Ballade of Theatricals

By G.K. Chesterton

[From a souvenir programme produced for a fund raising benefit in London on 14th May 1912, for those affected by the sinking of the Titanic just a month previously. It includes poems and prose by many famous and lesser known authors of the day, at least one of which, (Thomas Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain") is a first published appearance, in an early form.]

Though all the critics' canons grow--
Far seedier than the actors' own--
Although the cottage-door's too low--
Although the fairy's twenty stone--
Although, just like the telephone,
She comes by wire and not by wings,
Though all the mechanism's known--
Believe me, there are real things.

Yes, real people--even so--
Even in a theatre, truth is known,
Though the agnostic will not know,
And though the gnostic will not own,
There is a thing called skin and bone,
And many a man that struts and sings
Has been as stony-broke as stone . . .
Believe me, there are real things

There is an hour when all men go;
An hour when man is all alone.
When idle minstrels in a row
Went down with all the bugles blown--
When brass and hymn and drum went down,
Down in death's throat with thunderings--
Ah, though the unreal things have grown,
Believe me, there are real things.


Prince, though your hair is not your own
And half your face held on by strings,
And if you sat, you'd smash your throne--
--Believe me, there are real things.

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Last modified: 9 October, 2002
Martin Ward, De Montfort University, Leicester.
Email: martin@gkc.org.uk