When I lived in Chicago I would occasionally go to a little bar to read and study over a pint of Guinness… and to watch Cubs games in the spring and fall. One of the waitresses, who was young and pretty and very much in love with a med student at the University of Chicago, was an on-again off-again French Literature student. Seeing me reading Yeats one day she said, “You should read Belloc. He makes English beautiful… and fun. Everybody in Chicago reads too much Irish Literature. Irish poetry is depressing, just like Irish music.”
Belloc was an unrepentant Roman Catholic with a prophetic eye. From the Wikipedia article on Belloc, comes this quote, which I have found re-quoted several places over the last few years, by various writers:
The story must not be neglected by any modern, who may think in error that the East has finally fallen before the West, that Islam is now enslaved—to our political and economic power at any rate if not to our philosophy. It is not so. Islam essentially survives, and Islam would not have survived had the Crusade made good its hold upon the essential point of Damascus. Islam survives. Its religion is intact; therefore its material strength may return. Our religion is in peril, and who can be confident in the continued skill, let alone the continued obedience, of those who make and work our machines? … There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine… We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship (some few of us) a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice… Islam has not suffered this spiritual decline; and in the contrast between [our religious chaos and Islam’s] religious certitudes still strong throughout the Mohammedan world lies our peril. ~ Hillaire Belloc
“October” is fine example of what Belloc in his poetry does best. It is certainly a fine poem for an October day.
Look, how those steep woods on the mountain’s face
Burn, burn against the sunset; now the cold
Invades our very noon: the year’s grown old,
Mornings are dark, and evenings come apace.
The vines below have lost their purple grace,
And in Forreze the white wrack backward rolled,
Hangs to the hills tempestuous, fold on fold,
And moaning gusts make desolate all the place.
Mine host the month, at thy good hostelry,
Tired limbs I’ll stretch and steaming beast I’ll tether;
Pile on great logs with Gascon hand and free,
And pour the Gascon stuff that laughs at weather;
Swell your tough lungs, north wind, no whit care we,
Singing old songs and drinking wine together.