Saturday, June 30, 2007
Gilbert Keith Chesterton Answers His Mail
More letters asking
|This excerpt is from www.gilbertmagazine.com|
Friday, June 29, 2007
"And well may God with the serving-folk
Cast in His dreadful lot;
Is not He too a servant,
And is not He forgot ?
"For was not God my gardener
And silent like a slave;
That opened oaks on the uplands
Or thicket in graveyard gave? "
And was not God my armourer,
All patient and unpaid,
That sealed my skull as a helmet,
And ribs for hauberk made? "
Did not a great grey servant
Of all my sires and me,
Build this pavilion of the pines,
And herd the fowls and fill the vines,
And labour and pass and leave no signs
Save mercy and mystery?
"For God is a great servant,
And rose before the day,
From some primordial slumber torn;
But all we living later born
Sleep on, and rise after the morn,
And the Lord has gone away.
"On things half sprung from sleeping,
All sleepy suns have shone,
They stretch stiff arms, the yawning trees,
The beasts blink upon hands and knees,
Man is awake and does and sees--
But Heaven has done and gone.
For who shall guess the good riddle
Or speak of the Holiest,
Save in faint figures and failing words,
Who loves, yet laughs among the swords,
Labours, and is at rest?
"But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.
"Wherefore was God in Golgotha,
Slain as a serf is slain;
And hate He had of prince and peer,
And love He had and made good cheer,
Of them that, like this woman here,
Go powerfully in pain.
"But in this grey morn of man's life,
Cometh sometime to the mind
A little light that leaps and flies,
Like a star blown on the wind.
"A star of nowhere, a nameless star,
A light that spins and swirls,
And cries that even in hedge and hill,
Even on earth, it may go ill
At last with the evil earls.
"A dancing sparkle, a doubtful star,
On the waste wind whirled and driven;
But it seems to sing of a wilder worth,
A time discrowned of doom and birth,
And the kingdom of the poor on earth
Come, as it is in heaven.
"But even though such days endure,
How shall it profit her?
Who shall go groaning to the grave,
With many a meek and mighty slave,
Field-breaker and fisher on the wave,
And woodman and waggoner.
"Bake ye the big world all again
A cake with kinder leaven;
Yet these are sorry evermore--
Unless there be a little door,
A little door in heaven."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I made it through. I had only a few minor stumbles, but I think I had help (I was desperately praying that I wouldn't completely forget the poem, both before and during the recitation). And afterwards I got a standing ovation. I still can hardly believe it. Throughout the rest of that evening and the next day, dozens of people came and chatted with me. It was so cool to meet so many wonderful people. A thousand thanks to all of you who came to chat with me. Talk about making my day, making my week would be nearer the mark.
Dawn Eden was next, and she was awesome. She is a convert to Catholicism, and as often happens Chesterton helped. She pointed out that The Man Who Was Thursday is about both false rebellion (the anarchist movement) and true rebellion (the police force) and that Christians are rebellious too, against the fallen world. A few quotes I learned or was reminded of by her talk: A sound atheist cannot be to careful of his reading C.S. Lewis, The most important part of a picture is its frame GKC and we don't need wonders but wonder GKC (I think but I'm not sure, it sounds like him). And I was not the only person who liked this talk.
Joseph Pearce followed her, speaking on Small is Still Beautiful: Chestertonian Economics. The title was adapted from the title of the book by E.F. Schumaker, Small is Beautiful. Schumaker has a very interesting story. He was a very well respected economist and also an atheist. A sound atheist cannot be to careful of his reading. His friend got him to read several papal encyclicals. Although Schumaker was at first skeptical he soon found that the popes really had a lot of answers to the problems in economics. After reading the encylical Humana Vitae Schumaker's mother and daughter both converted, and eventually so did Schumaker. The world needs to repent or it will die of consumption, were his thought-provoking closing words.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
T-theta (a syllable of enthusiasm)
H-Humility (and humor)
R-Rhyme and Reason (the princesses from the Phantom Tollbooth)
Y-Yo (Chesterton's word for both yes and no)
And a few more interesting tidbits:
Humility means Honesty
There is but one thought greater then that of the Universe, that is the thought of its Maker.
It is just as easy to be logical about imaginary things as real ones
It is the humble man who does the great things
Next came Robert Moore-Jumonville whose talk had the amusing yet very logical title of Why Did the Lamppost Cross the Road: Chesterton's Theology of Civilisation, so there is not much to explain as far as what the main purpose of his talk was. The lamppost played a key role in this talk since, in GKC's writing, the lamppost is often used to symbolize civilisation (e.g. TMWWT). So again, a few of my notes from this talk, quotes from the speaker or Chesterton respectively:
Man is the animal that makes dogmas
Man is content to picnic in the ruins of this palaces
What man has done, man can still do
By then it was time for lunch after which came two panels in a row. The first consisted of Aidan Mackey, Christopher Chan and Kerry MacArthur. Aidan Mackey was wonderful, he knew Ada Chesterton (Cecil's wife) quite well and also (if I remember correctly) Chesterton's secretary. The first book of Chesterton's that he read was The Man Who Was Thursday in the year that Chesterton died on the recommendation of his brother who told him to get his nose out of the junk he was reading. So he read it and found it very interesting, and of course, since then he has read a good deal more of GKC, he was, as my mother remarked, the original ChesterTeen.
Next was Christoper Chan who spent most of his time, rather then on the TMWWT, speaking about how hard it can be to make a difference and yet encouraging us to try. After him was Kerry MacArthur, who I really liked although I cannot explain to myself why. He compared different areas of TMWWT to different typical types of dreams, the Professor De Worms chase to a dream where you can't move; the duel to a dream where you are fighting for your life; and the chase at the end to a delirious dream.
The next panel was made up of Jorge Iglesias, Mike Streeter and Rob MacArthur. Jorge Iglesias spoke on Chesterton and South American author, Borge. Mike Streeter spoke on Chesterton and Hume and Rob MacArthur on Chesterton and Chesterton (contrasting Chesterton's work in varying genres). My notebook was not available during this talk so I don't have the convenient lists of interesting points as I did from the others, but this was still quite interesting, and again you can listen to them, as you know CDs are available here.
This post is getting extremely long and run-on so I will continue with after dinner in my next posting.
He told us a good deal about the background of The Man Who Was Thursday, a possible inspiration for the character of Sunday (Chesterton's former schoolmaster) and about a few short stories which gave hints of elements of TMWWT long before that book was written. Those included A Picture of Tuesday (which I have read) and The Man With Two Legs (which I now very much want to read). But since I can't tell you everything that he said, I will have to recommend you buy his talk, and all the others for that matter.
Next was Chesterton himself (ok, ok it was really Chuck Chalberg) speaking on Islam. And it wasn't just about Islam, it was also about Jerusalem and Rome and a good deal more. Some of my favorite quotes/points were these:
In the crusades it was Islam that invaded rather then Europe
Obviously, obvious things are easily forgotten
Islam possesses a great truth, so great that it was impossible to see that it is a half truth
The friction of two truths together breeds that firse of the mind
A wall is like a rule and a gate is like an exception to the rule
Gethsamane was the place where God said his prayers
The object of war is peace so the object of religious war is mental peace
"I will not wear a crown of gold where my master wore a crown of thorns" a quote from the knight who led a temporarily triumphant invasion of Jerusalem, was offered its crown and refused it in those words
Then after a few questions and singing Happy Birthday to Dale Ahlquist it was time to retire for the night.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Another tattered rhymster in the ring,
With but the old plea to the sneering schools,
That on him too, some secret night in spring
Came the old frenzy of a hundred fools
To make some thing: the old want dark and deep,
The thirst of men, the hunger of the stars,
Since first it tinged even the Eternal's sleep,
With monstrous dreams of trees and towns and mars.
When all He made for the first time He saw,
Scattering stars as misers shake their pelf.
Then in the last strange wrath broke His own law,
And made a graven image of Himself.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Restrictions. There are many more enticing products available here and, I assume, at the ChesterCon later this week. Speaking of ChesterCon do any of you plan to go? I'm going, unless of course a calamity occurs as happened last year, and I plan to report on the goings-on there.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Once I planned to write a book of poems entirely about the things in my pocket. But I found it would be too long; and the age of the great epics is past.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Friday, June 08, 2007
White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.
Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain--hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.
Blancos los surtidores en los patios del sol;
El Sultán de Estambul se ríe mientras juegan.
Como las fuentes es la risa de esa cara que todos temen,
Y agita la boscosa oscuridad, la oscuridad de su barba,
Y enarca la media luna sangrienta, la media luna de sus labios,
Porque al más íntimo de los mares del mundo lo sacuden sus barcos.
Han desafiado las repúblicas blancas por los cabos de Italia,
Han arrojado sobre el León del Mar el Adriático,
Y la agonía y la perdición abrieron los brazos del Papa,
Que pide espadas a los reyes cristianos para rodear la Cruz.
La fría Reina de Inglaterra se mira en el espejo;
La sombra de los Valois bosteza en la Misa;
De las irreales islas del ocaso retumban los cañones de España,
Y el Señor del Cuerno de Oro se está riendo en pleno sol.
Laten vagos tambiores, amortiguados por las montañas,
Y sólo un príncipe sin corona, se ha movido en un trono sin nombre,
Y abandonando su dudoso trono e infamado sitial,
El último caballero de Europa toma las armas,
El último rezagado trovador que oyó el canto del pájaro,
Que otrora fue cantando hacia el sur, cuando el mundo entero era joven.
En ese vasto silencio, diminuto y sin miedo
Sube por la senda sinuosa el ruido de la Cruzada.
Mugen los fuertes gongs y los cañones retumban,
Don Juan de Austria se va a la guerra.
Forcejean tiesas banderas en las frías ráfagas de la noche,
Oscura púrpura en la sombra, oro viejo en la luz,
Carmesí de las antorchas en los atabales de cobre.
Las clarinadas, los clarines, los cañones y aquí está él.
Ríe Don Juan en la gallarda barba rizada.
Rechaza, estribando fuerte, todos los tronos del mundo,
Yergue la cabeza como bandera de los libres.
Luz de amor para España ¡hurrá!
Luz de muerte para África ¡hurrá!
Don Juan de Austria
Cabalga hacia el mar.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Old King Cole
Was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he
He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl
and he called for his fiddlers three
after Lord Tennyson
Cole, that unwearied prince of Colchester,
Growing more gay with age and with long days
Deeper in laughter and desire of life
As that Virginian climber on our walls
Flames scarlet with the fading of the year;
Called for his wassail and that other weed
Virginian also, from the western woods
Where English Raleigh checked the boast of Spain,
And lighting joy with joy, and piling up
Pleasure as crown for pleasure, bade me bring
Those three, the minstrels whose emblazoned coats
Shone with the oyster-shells of Colchester;
And these three played, and playing grew more fain
Of mirth and music; till the heathen came
And the King slept beside the northern sea.
after W.B. Yeats
Of an old King in a story
From the grey sea-folk I have heard
Whose heart was no more broken
Than the wings of a bird.
As soon as the moon was silver
And the thin stars began,
He took his pipe and his tankard,
Like an old peasant man.
And three tall shadows were with him
And came at his command;
And played before him for ever
The fiddles of fairyland.
And he died in the young summer
Of the world's desire;
Before our hearts were broken
Like sticks in a fire.
after Walt Whitman
Me conscious of you, old camarado,
Needing no telescope, lorgnette, field-glass, opera-glass, myopic pince-nez,
Me piercing two thousand years with eye naked and not ashamed;
The crown cannot hide you from me,
Musty old feudal-heraldic trappings cannot hide you from me, I perceive that you drink.
(I am drinking with you. I am as drunk as you are.)
I see you are inhaling tobacco, puffing, smoking, spitting
(I do not object to your spitting),
You prophetic of American largeness,
You anticipating the broad masculine manners of these States;
I see in you also there are movements, tremors, tears, desire for the melodious,
I salute your three violinists, endlessly making vibrations,
Rigid, relentless, capable of going on for ever;
They play my accompaniment; but I shall take no notice of any accompaniment;
I myself am a complete orchestra. So long.