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Monday, December 27, 2004

Bearing good tidings

This donkey's reflections seem to betray a spirit that leaves something to be desired: traces of bitterness, or perhaps just of a very ambivalent boast. However, when we come to the last verse, ambivalence or bitterness it might have been, there is a definite joy and triumph that is evident from the first word "Fools!" that with its exclamation and in its feistiness departs somewhat from the rhythm and mood of the preceding stanzas. I can identify with the donkey: I'm certainly far from being perfect, but God is gracious and uses me still. Written in a classic hymn meter (4,3,4,3; e.g., "Joy to the World"), this could also be seen a donkey's hymn to remind us of Christ as we celebrate the baby Jesus this Christmas season. And if you're looking for a real donkey's carol, there's always John Rutter's Donkey Carol which with its whimsical sweetness has charmed listeners the world over.

By: 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.

(Note on the last stanza: read Matthew 21)


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