The Donkey

A great little poem from the perspective of the donkey by the gentle giant that was G. K. Chesterton.  Just right for Palm Sunday!

The Donkey

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.
By G. K. Chesterton
The Collected Poems of G. K. Chesterton (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1927)
I really love this poem.
It is a dark, pre-historical apocalyptic, self-aware observation of “The Donkey”.
The origins are Genesis-like, poet, intentionally non-scientific, that force the reader into a primitive age of beginnings and blood moons.
The self-understanding of the Donkey is as a devilish monster striding the earth, the ugliest, most pointless of all the creatures, “the devil’s parody” – no worse epithet could ever be used!  And if the donkey is the devil’s parody, then he bloody well won’t be doing what human beings tell him to do, that’s for sure!
Suddenly, at the end, rising from the Satanic melancholic doom and gloom, emerges a great secret.   And a great joke, and the joke is on us!
This beast knows he was chosen to carry the King of Kings as he rode into Jerusalem, as though enthroned.
It is no accident that the firstborn donkey, like the firstborn child, was to be redeemed with a lamb (Ex. 13:11-16).
The Last Laugh


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