“Lepanto” by Chesterton and a metaphysical hangover

In the The Spectator “Low Life” column this week Jeremy Clarke described what Kingsley Amis (apparently a connoisseur of the phenomenon) called a “metaphysical hangover”. Apart from the usual feeling of being unwell there is a compound of depression, sadness (not the same thing), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear of the future. The Amis remedy was the final scene of Paradise Lost or battle poems such as Lepanto by Chesterton.

Lepanto is a poem by G.K. Chesterton celebrating the victory of the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto written in irregular stanzas of rhyming, roughly paeonic tetrameter couplets, often ending in a quatrain of four dimeter lines. The poem tells of the defeat of the Ottoman fleet of Ali Pasha by the Christian crusader, Don John of Austria. The poem was written in 1911 and its stirring verses helped inspire soldiers such as John Buchan during World War I.


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11 Responses to “Lepanto” by Chesterton and a metaphysical hangover

  1. Bruce of Newcastle


    The Turks are sinking again.

    Jim Rickards Warns, Turkey Will Be ‘Ground Zero’ In The Next Global Debt Crisis (22 Feb)

    Turkey’s debt is huge, one of the highest debt burdens of any EM [emerging market]. Turkey owes $450 billion to foreign creditors, of which $276 billion is denominated in hard currency, mostly dollars and euros. The remainder of $174 billion is denominated in Turkey’s local currency, the lira.

    Both kinds of debt are problematic. The lira debt is a growing burden because lira interest rates have skyrocketed from 6% to 12% in the past five years.

    The foreign currency debt is problematic for two reasons. The first is that the lira has devalued from 1.75 to 3.89 to the dollar since 2013, which increases the amount of lira needed by local companies to repay their external debt. The second reason is that U.S. and euro interest rates are starting to rise, which also makes the external debt burden more difficult to service.

    So either business has to pay sky high interest rates in lira or they borrow in USD and watch inflation skyrocket the lira value of the debt. Wicked.

    I suspect Caliph Erdogan’s new Ottoman Empire is not going to last very long.

  2. John Constantine

    Lepanto was an important technical and propaganda victory, but……..

    The experts of the political class of Venice were unwavering in meeting their obligations to personally profit from obeying the caliphate.

    although a few caliphate ships were sunk at Lepanto, and many brave Christians fought to the death to halt the invasion….

    “The Holy League was disbanded with the peace treaty of 7 March 1573, which concluded the War of Cyprus. Venice was forced to accept loser’s terms in spite of the victory at Lepanto. Cyprus was formally ceded to the Ottoman Empire, and Venice agreed to pay an indemnity of 300,000 ducats. In addition, the border between the two powers in Dalmatia was modified by the Turkish occupation of small but important parts of the hinterland that included the most fertile agricultural areas near the cities, with adverse effects on the economy of the Venetian cities in Dalmatia.”

    Basically the politicians of Venice paid compensation for the caliphate ships sunk at Lepanto and signed a capitulation treaty handing Cyprus to the caliphate as well as other desireable territory.

    Even today, Islamic Cyprus is measureable proof that the military victory at Lepanto meant nothing when the spineless orcs of the quisling political class would sign it all away for the hope of personal profit.

    What a brilliant tradition to follow, Julie bishop.

  3. John Constantine

    Their European union will bail out Turkey by confiscating European wealth to do so.

    Then open the borders.

  4. Rafe Champion

    Never mind the poem, that was a bum steer, I will stick to a pint of warm water and a vitamin B pill before turning in.

  5. Rafe Champion

    I suspect Caliph Erdogan’s new Ottoman Empire is not going to last very long.

    They have shot themselves in the foot by purging thousands of their best and brightest. They will also be in trouble with Israel if they keep harassing the Kurds.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Sorry Rafe I was OT…I can’t help myself though.

    My version of the Amis remedy is to read the battle scene of David Weber’s “Flag in Exile”. Or the launch sequence in Niven’s “Footfall” when the nuke-propelled human spacecraft takes off and fights the elephant-critters. Or the landing sequence for the chimp piloted second-hand fighter in Brin’s “Uplift War”. I must re-read Hells Faire too. The idea of a 7,000 tonne piece of self-propelled artillery (named after a rabbit) fighting alien hordes in the Appalachians is very soothing.

  7. John Constantine

    Another real day consequence of the caliphate losing Lepanto, but having the craven Venetians capitulating Cyprus to them anyway:

    The Turkish republic of Cyprus is claiming massive territory in the Eastern Mediterranean, highly prospective for giant oil and gas offshore fields.

    Turkey is trying it on to grab all it can using brinkmanship.

  8. Rafe

    Bruce it is more interesting to talk about Turkey and the Caliphate than jeremy Clarke’s hangover although his column is most amusing and I recommend it far ahead of Chesterton’s poem!

  9. C.L.

    although a few caliphate ships were sunk at Lepanto

    About 200, to be precise. So a lot more than a few.

    … Islamic Cyprus is measureable proof that the military victory at Lepanto meant nothing …

    Don’t be silly. The Muslims’ objective was Europe, not the shitty island of Cyprus.

    They were smashed to smithereens.

  10. Roger

    They were smashed to smithereens.

    Now they come via rubber boats.

  11. JC


    Turkey is NOT going to spark a debt crisis with US$280 billion of foreign debt. I bet the risk to Western banks is minimal. No one gives a shit about these fuckers if they go into default. Turkey may owe hard currency, but it would not be to Western banks by any scale is my bet.

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