The Carpenter’s Nails


Detail from Blake’s Christ Appearing to His Disciples After the Resurrection (c. 1795)

“Do not the words of Jesus ring / Like nails knocked into a board / In his father’s workshop?”  ~G.K. Chesterton 

Here are some early poems by G.K. Chesterton from a notebook from his youth, as recorded in Maisie Ward’s biography. He wrote these before coming to faith in Jesus Christ, years before he’d write his masterpiece, The Everlasting Man.

Ward writes: “This, I think, is the first hint of the path that led Gilbert to full faith in Our Lord. In places in these notes, he regards Him certainly only as Man—but even then as The Man, the Only Man in whom the colossal scale, the immense possibilities, of human nature could be dreamed of as fulfilled.”


The axe falls on the wood in thuds, “God, God.”

The cry of the rook, “God,” answers it

The crack of the fire on the hearth, the voice of the brook, say the same name;

All things, dog, cat, fiddle, baby,

Wind, breaker, sea, thunderclap

Repeat in a thousand languages—



Man is a spark flying upwards. God is everlasting.

Who are we, to whom this cup of human life has been given, to ask for more? Let us love mercy and walk humbly. What is man, that thou regardest him?

Man is a star unquenchable. God is in him incarnate.

His life is planned upon a scale colossal, of which he sees glimpses. Let him dare all things, claim all things: he is the son of Man, who shall come in the clouds of glory.

[I] saw these two strands mingling to make the religion of man.


The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

Yes: he was soliloquising, not making something.

Do not the words of Jesus ring

Like nails knocked into a board

In his father’s workshop?

G.K. and Frances on their wedding day. She played an instrumental role in his journey to Christ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.