Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Donkey - G. K. Chesterton

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.

Here, Chesterton talks about the donkey, the strange, awkward creature that's often the butt of jokes.  Why else would calling someone an ass be an insult?  His ears are like "errant wings" and he is the "devil's walking parody on all four-footed things."  Yet, Chesterton claims a nobility to the humble donkey, for it was a donkey that bore Christ on Palm Sunday.  That's what the final stanza references.  The donkey, being dumb, thinks it his hour, but I think what we can take from this poem is that even the lowliest creature has as much purpose and worth as the highest.

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