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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