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The Donkey -- G K Chesterton

Guest poem submitted by VG:
(Poem #1530) The Donkey
 When fishes flew and forests walked
 And figs grew upon thorn,
 Some moment when the moon was blood
 Then surely I was born;

 With monstrous head and sickening cry
 And ears like errant wings,
 The devil's walking parody
 On all four-footed things.

 The tattered outlaw of the earth,
 Of ancient crooked will;
 Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
 I keep my secret still.

 Fools! For I also had my hour;
 One far fierce hour and sweet:
 There was a shout about my ears,
 And palms before my feet.
-- G K Chesterton
At the age of eight, my eldest sister decided to teach me (aged six) and our
two other sisters (aged four and eight) this poem. Why she chose this poem I
don't know, nor do I remember how she went about teaching it. All I know is
that she was eminently successful, and even now we can recite the poem
perfectly. At six, I had no idea what the poem was about (though I recited
it with pride and passion, excited by the idea of flying fish and a moon of
blood), but because I learned it so early, the fierce beauty of the poem is
now enriched with nostalgia for me.

VG.

44 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Chellappa Mallika (Mallika) said...

Aother gem from that book "An Anthology of Modern verse",
at least that's where I read it - same page as "Lepanto"

Of course the palms refer to Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode
into Jerusalem on a donkey.

Mallika

edel.cleary said...

I first read this poem in Palgrave's Golden Treasury of Verse when I was a
child. One of my older brothers and sisters had written on the flyleaf:
"The Donkey is the best poem." It's one of those poems you learn as a
child that stays with you always - your understanding of it deepens on
different levels with the years. That is the simple beauty of all great
poetry.

Edel Cleary

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If I am not wrong there aren't any mention of a donkey in the poem. but probably it is implicit.

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Anonymous said...

Chesterton does not make mention of the Donkey in the poem because he is also referring to his own birth.

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