Note to My Readers: from mid-June to mid-August (6/18 - 8/20), I will be taking a summer break from posting new articles for my Thursday and Friday slots. This will only affect my Thursday series on the global growth of Christianity, and my Friday series, the "Theological Bestiary" of birds, both of which will resume in late August. During the summer, I'll be dusting off some of my best essays from the first few years of this blog (a decade ago), as well as my verse play "Thus Ends the World," and re-posting them in the Thursday and Friday slots. All other weekdays will continue to feature new material throughout the summer.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"To Edmund Clerihew Bentley," by G. K. Chesterton

I've taken a few days off this week to do some birdwatching during the spring migration season, so haven't had time to compose a new set of verses for my Evangeliad. In its place, I offer a poem which is not mine, but which happens to be one of my favorites: the bit of poesy that G. K. Chesterton wrote as a dedication to preface his wild and wonderful novel, The Man Who Was Thursday. I've chosen to exclude a few of the original stanzas, but you can follow this link if you'd like to read the entire poem. Enjoy!


To Edmund Clerihew Bentley

A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity and art admired decay;
The world was old and ended: but you and I were gay;
Round us in antic order their crippled vices came--
Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame...
Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung;
The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named:
Men were ashamed of honor; but we were not ashamed.
Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus;
When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from us.
Children we were--our forts of sand were even as weak as we,
High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea...
But we were young; we lived to see God break their bitter charms,
God and the good Republic come riding back in arms.
We have seen the City of Mansoul, even as it rocked, relieved--
Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind, believed.
This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells,
And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells--
Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and yet crash,
Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol flash...
Between us, by the peace of God, such things can now be told;
Yes, there is strength in striking root and good in growing old.
We have found common things at last, and marriage and a creed,
And I may safely write it now, and you may safely read.

- G. K. C.

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