“The simplest truth about man is that he is a very strange being; almost in the sense of being a stranger on the earth. In all sobriety, he has much more of the external appearance of one bringing alien habits from another land than of a mere growth of this one. He cannot sleep in his own skin; he cannot trust his own instincts. He is at once a creator moving miraculous hands and fingers and a kind of cripple. He is wrapped in artificial bandages called clothes; he is propped on artificial crutches called furniture. His mind has the same doubtful liberties and the same wild limitations. Alone among the animals, he is shaken with the beautiful madness called laughter; as if he had caught sight of some secret in the very shape of the universe hidden from the universe itself. Alone among the animals he feels the need of averting his thought from the root realities of his own bodily being; of hiding them as in the presence of some higher possibility which creates the mystery of shame.” ―
This poem by G.K. Chesterton was a favorite of J.R.R. Tolkien’s. Written from a dog’s perspective, it was one of several that he knew by heart from Chesterton’s brilliant and rollicking “The Flying Inn”.
“The Song of Quoodle” by G.K. Chesterton from The Flying Inn
“They haven’t got no noses
The fallen sons of Eve,
Even the smell of roses
Is not what they supposes,
But more than mind discloses,
And more than men believe.
“I generally make my New Year resolutions somewhere towards the end of May, for I belong to that higher order of beings who not only forget to keep promises, but forget even to make them. Besides, my birthday is somewhere about then; and I like to be born again at the time I was born.” -G.K. Chesterton, “Daily News” (London), January 11, 1913
“The Enchanted Man” by G.K. Chesterton from A Miscellany of Men.
When I arrived to see the performance of the Buckinghamshire Players, who acted Miss Gertrude Robins’s POT LUCK at Naphill a short time ago, it is the distressing, if scarcely surprising, truth that I entered very late. This would have mattered little, I hope, to any one, but that late comers had to be forced into front seats. For a real popular English audience always insists on crowding in the back part of the hall; and (as I have found in many an election) will endure the most unendurable taunts rather than come forward. The English are a modest people; that is why they are entirely ruled and run by the few of them that happen to be immodest. In theatrical affairs the fact is strangely notable; and in most playhouses we find the bored people in front and the eager people behind.
“A Prayer in Darkness” by G.K. Chesterton
THIS much, O heaven—if I should brood or rave,
Pity me not; but let the world be fed,
Yea, in my madness if I strike me dead,
Heed you the grass that grows upon my grave.
“Gratitude comes with a price, says Chesterton, ‘and the price is Truth.’ Facing reality is the best way to avoid either the low of despair or the high of presumption. Coming to grips with the truth is the best way to cultivate a sense of hope and savor an experience, because truth places before us exactly what we have and avoids mistaken comparisons about how we deserve better (or worse). Comparisons kill happiness.” ~Fr. Michael Rennier
Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a little article on Chesterton’s wonderful (and wonder-filled) insights on the power of gratitude.
“… boundaries are the most beautiful things in the world. To love anything is to love its boundaries … for when we have come to the end of a thing we have come to the beginning of it.” ~G.K. Chesterton
“The Lion” by G.K. Chesterton (from Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
In the town of Belfort I take a chair and I sit down in the street. We talk in a cant phrase of the Man in the Street, but the Frenchman is the man in the street. Things quite central for him are connected with these lamp-posts and pavements; everything from his meals to his martyrdoms. When first an Englishman looks at a French town or village his first feeling is simply that it is uglier than an English town or village; when he looks again he sees that this comparative absence of the picturesque is chiefly expressed in the plain, precipitous frontage of the houses standing up hard and flat out of the street like the cardboard houses in a pantomime—a hard angularity allied perhaps to the harshness of French logic. When he looks a third time he sees quite simply that it is all because the houses have no front gardens. The vague English spirit loves to have the entrance to its house softened by bushes and broken by steps. It likes to have a little anteroom of hedges half in the house and half out of it; a green room in a double sense. The Frenchman desires no such little pathetic ramparts or halting places, for the street itself is a thing natural and familiar to him.