Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sociological Triolets

by G.K. Chesterton

(Written on first looking into Mr. Bellamy's "Looking Backwards"; or "Much have I travelled in these Realms of Gold")


The Collectivist State
Is a prig and a bandit.
I despise and I hate
The Collectivist State;
It may be My Fate,
But I'm damned if I'll stand it!
The Collectivist State
Is a prig and a bandit.


The Capitalist State
Is a garden of roses;
It's been proved in debate
--The Capitalist State--
But, strange to relate,
We are holding our noses,
The Capitalist State
Is a Garden of Roses.


The Communist State
Is all mixed up together.
Where we participate
--The Communist State--
There can be no hate--
(But we all hate the weather)
The Communist State
Is all mixed up together.


The Syndical State
Raises awful emotion
In the Wise and the Great,
"The Syndical State".
What the words indicate
They haven't a notion.
The Syndical State
Raises awful emotion.


The Anarchis.t State
Is a flat contradiction.
So let Tolstoy narrate
The Anarchis.t State--
His powers, which were great,
Were more suited to fiction;
The Anarchis.t State
Is a flat contradiction.


The Servile (ow!) State
Is like this, only worse,
Degradation's its fate--
The Servile (oo!) State
It's debased, desecrate
--And it don't care a curse--
The Servile (ugh!) State
Is like this, only worse.


The Distributive State
You'd like if you'd met it
But you buy at a hard rate
The Distributive State.
It means Early and Late
--And don't you forget it--
The Distributive State
You'd like if you'd met it.

* * *

If anyone didn't know what a triolet is, here are seven good examples. My personal favourite, though (also by Chesterton) is,

I wish I were a jelly fish
That cannot fall downstairs:
Of all the things I wish to wish
I wish I were a jelly fish
That hasn't any cares,
And doesn't even have to wish
"I wish I were a jelly fish
That cannot fall downstairs."

I happened to mention in the last post that I happen to like the idea of "The Distributive State." I didn't expect such an outcry. I almost changed my mind about posting these triolets, because I didn't invent my blog as a place for political debate (politics just isn't my forte, and economics is only a new interest), but as I had already planned to post them, I went ahead and did. Besides, I am not afraid to answer anyone who has an objection to anything I say here.

Two provisos, however. One, I am a newcomer to distributism. All the distributist literature I have read is An Essay on the Restoration of Property and a mention or two in Chesterton. So if you want someone who knows all there is on the subject, you should probably go debate with someone else. Dr. Thursday might know.

Two, if you want to say something, be nice. And speak to the subject at hand. There is no need to belittle anyone or bring up irrelevant details. If your ideas really work, they should speak for themselves.

Thanks everyone, and happy poetry reading!

P.S. I just realised I missed Uncle Gilbert's birthday two days ago! Something belated shall be posted soon in honour of the (past) event.

P.P.S. Excuse the periods in the middle of the word "anar.chist". I just discovered that my computer was taking it out. My computer is insane: "damned" and "hell" are perfectly all right, but "gi.rl," "," "godd.ess," and now "anar.chist" are verboten. Since it is not actually my own computer, I can't fix it, so I must work around it. Your pardon, gentles all.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mr. Ford

by G.K. Chesterton

Though Mr. Ford can quite afford
To sell his motors cheap
I can't afford a Mr. Ford
He costs too much to keep,
He will not play with wooden toys
They must be made of steel,
I never knew him bowl a hoop
Unless it was a wheel.

Suppose the masses profit by
The Mass-production plan
I do not want to be a mass
I thought I was a man.
I can't afford a millionaire
However pure and new
I keep a wife, and I keep a house
I keep a temper too.

Though Mr. Ford can quite afford
To pay his workmen well
I can't afford a Mr. Ford
The price would be a sell,
I'd have to pawn the village pub
And scrap the village forcge
And let the Peace Ship standardise
The standard of St. George.

I can't afford a Mr. Ford
My plot of peas and beans
Won't grow sufficient greenbacks
But just sufficient greens;
Nor would I lose it all to toil
In servitude and strain
Till I had made a plutocrat
To pay me back again.

* * *

This poem, in case you missed it, is about distributism. This is Chesterton's economic system of choice (although he did not invent it). I don't know as much about it as I would like, so I've been reading Belloc's pamphlet "An Essay on the Restoration of Property." So far I like it.

When Chesterton says he cannot "afford" Mr. Ford, he means that the cost of mass production, monopoly, and unbridled capitalism includes some of the things he is not willing to go without: the village pub, the village forge, his house and garden. He is afraid he will no longer be thought of as an individual: "I do not want to be a mass / I thought I was a man."

I don't want to be a mass either. So far distributism sounds pretty good to me. But hopefully I'll find out more at the Chesterton Convention in three weeks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Kingdom of God

by Francis Thompson

O World invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air—
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!—
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places;—
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.

But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
Cry;—and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry,—clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!

* * *

Francis Thompson was a religious poet with a very tumultuous life. He spent time as a drug addict as well as a mystic.

I posted this poem in honour of the Feast of the Ascension. Christ ascended, but He did not depart. (By this I do not support the odd idea I heard once that Christ's glorified body is still on earth! In case anyone was wondering.) He "will be with us always, until the close of the age." Most people expect to find God in extraordinary things. How often He is found in the ordinary instead! St. Thérèse found Him there.

There is not much chance of my seeing anything extraordinary this summer. But there will be plenty of opportunities for me to find ordinary holiness through my work at home.

Speaking of which, I should go exercise some ordinary holiness and go help my mom.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


by G.K. Chesterton

God made thee mightily, my love,
He stretched His hands out of His rest
And lit the star of east and west,
Brooding o'er darkness like a dove
God made thee mightily, my love.

God made thee patiently, my sweet,
Out of all stars He chose a star,
He made it red with sunset bar
And green with greeting for thy feet.
God made thee mightily, my sweet.

* * *

Another of Chesterton's love poems for Frances. It's a beautiful thought, that all of creation was leading up to Frances, that the green of the world was only made to greet her feet.

*sentimental sigh*

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Afternoon on a Hill

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will be the gladdest thing
    Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
    And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
    And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
    And then start down!

* * *

I found this in my little brother's poetry book. It pretty much describes how I'd spend a free afternoon, if I ever had one.

(Yes, that is my Blogger Excuse, though veiled: I don't blog because I have no free time. Although I guess my better reason is that I don't have enough internet time. At home the computer ties up the phone line.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Youth and Love, I

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Once only by the garden gate
Our lips we joined and parted.
I must fulfil an empty fate
And travel the uncharted.

Hail and farewell! I must arise,
Leave here the fatted cattle,
And paint on foreign lands and skies
My Odyssey of battle.

The untented Kosmos my abode,
I pass, a wilful stranger:
My mistress still the open road
And the bright eyes of danger.

Come ill or well, the cross, the crown,
The rainbow or the thunder,
I fling my soul and body down
For God to plough them under.

* * *

The semester is over now. For good or ill, I have finished my last exam and will be flying out of here on Sunday. I expect the summer to be an adventure, hence the poem. It's nice and classical, too.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

May Magnificat

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
        Her feasts follow reason,
        Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
        Why fasten that upon her,
        With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
        Is it opportunest
        And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
        Question: What is Spring?—
        Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
        Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
        Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
        And bird and blossom swell
        In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
        With that world of good,
        Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
        How she did in her stored
        Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
        Much, had much to say
        To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
        And thicket and thorp are merry
        With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
        And magic cuckoocall
        Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
        To remember and exultation
        In God who was her salvation.

* * *

For the first Saturday of May, here is a bit of Hopkins. I had to memorize this poem for Mother's Day at school in tenth grade. I never performed it. But in the one afternoon I had to learn it, I discovered that if you say it really fast, especially with a certain rhythm, you sound like a rapper.

Anyway, it's typical Hopkins: exhiliarated love of nature, down to the little details like tiny birds' eggs and the colour of apple blossoms, coupled with the religious ideas that he knew were not separate from the beauty of nature.

The thesis is quite simple: Mary has the month of May as her own month because it is a time of growth and birth, symbolising her motherhood, and because it is joyful, as with the joy with which Mary rejoiced in God her Saviour.

I'm beginning to get back into Hopkins after a bit of a break from him. This morning I went back to practising "The Wreck of the Deutschland." I have been trying to learn that poem, off and on, since I first read it in the tenth grade, and I nearly have it now. It's just the order of a few stanzas that I get mixed up. Once I get all 280 lines of it pat, then my quest will begin for one single person who will want to hear it. It is probably my favourite poem of all time, alongside "The Seafarer" and few others, but it's difficult enough that hardly anyone wants to hear it. I think I will post on it, in another multipart series, someday, because after you've read it a few times and have heard the ringing beauty of the lines and understand a tiny bit of the mystical meaning, you can't help but love it. Hopkins is like that.

A little random note: I have heard the tradition that the first Saturday of May is the perfect time to ask any favour you like of Mary. She will go to any effort to obtain it for you. I have tried this before, and have never gone unanswered. In fact, I credit Mary's intercession on the first Saturday of May five years ago for the birth of my first younger sibling. I suggest you try asking her something today.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Chesterblogg

GKC's Favourite

All right, in the interests of doing something new and different . . .

Just kidding. I wouldn't do something for that reason alone. I'm posting this link to this very good Chestertonian blog for a few good reasons:

1. He posts Chesterton poetry (and other good Chestertonian stuff).

2. He reads some of the same blogs I do, which shows he has good taste.

3. He has put me down on his side bar as a niece of "Aunt Frances." This makes me feel very special. But I actually do have a great-great-Auntie Francie (still living), and have for some time, and so I suppose I ought to have always felt special.

4. He is the only person I have found on the blogosphere who has actually made use of the clever pun available on Frances Chesterton's maiden name (which was Blogg).

All of these are reasons why you should go there and check it out.