GK Chesterton is mostly famous for his Father Brown detective stories, the detective being a priest. This reflects his religious interests, also echoed in the biblical references towards the end of this poem. It’s long been a favourite of mine, describing the donkey as a strange and almost monstrous creature, but reminding us that ‘every dog has its day’ …
Another work of Chesterton’s worth exploring is the Absurd novel The Man Who Was Thursday. It features the recruitment of a poet by the police to infiltrate a gang of anarchists, but nothing is as it seems in this spiritually-flavoured thriller. There are two especially memorable parts of the book: the first is a superb chase sequence, and the second, one of my favourite quotations about loneliness and friendship – I think it also links to Shrek, actually:
“Through all this ordeal his root horror had been isolation, and there are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.”
Here’s the poem – let me know if you enjoy it …
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.