Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chess Master at Christmas

...a pattern can stretch for ever and still be a small pattern. They see a chess-board white on black, and if the universe is paved with it, it is still white on black.-- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy CW1:225

Sometimes the philosopher paints the disc all black and calls himself a pessimist; sometimes he paints it all white and calls himself an optimist; sometimes he divides it exactly into halves of black and white and calls himself a dualist ... None of them could understand a thing that began to draw the proportions just as if they were real proportions, disposed in the living fashion which the mathematical draughtsman would call disproportionate. Like the first artist in the cave, it revealed to incredulous eyes the suggestion of a new purpose in what looked like a wildly crooked pattern; he seemed only to be distorting his diagram, when he began for the first time in all the ages to trace the lines of a form and of a Face.-- G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man CW2:268, emphasis added

The Board
In four axes bound, with four corners square
Four pillars fixed, the boardmen unaware
Of bounds which Board-Source once did hack
The freedom gift of white and black.

The Pawns
Slaved into lines, arranged for war
Pawns against power: hate, death, gore
The ordered bounds of black and white
Turned to disorder in futile fight.

The Queen
From Board-Beyond a message came
(All games, all boards, shall tell her fame)
Pawn to the pawnless, in devotion
Humility has found promotion.

The Queen (again)
She travels far, in haste
Crossing pieceless waste
Finds another, older queen
With a leaping piece unseen.

The Knight
The knight beside the queen in doubt
Considers: should she be put out?
Beyond the Board begotten his spouse
Takes her rightly into his house.

The Knight (again)
A dark piece counting on taxation
To starting square directs the nation
The knight in stern obedience
A free cave finds 'midst piece-filled tents.

The King
The Queen stands, arrayed in gold,
In midnight peace, in winter cold:
The Knight stands too, on guard devoted:
The King, so pawnlike, so demoted.

The King (again)
Immobile piece in peace enwrapped
Between the Knight and Queen entrapped
Who played with stars beyond the Board
Takes lowest place, despised, abhorred.

The Pawns
Above the Board a great light stormed
The watchful pawns were then informed
The King in pawnlike garb they see:
The Highest made like you and me!

The Rooks
That very light the Board illumed
The pieces sleep, alas, emtombed
Yet rooks alert to that new light
Awoke and traversed through the night.

The Dark Powers
The dark side, whining-screaming/cursing
Heard the rook-quest, far traversing;
Sent forth dark troops to snuff the Dawn
To slay this deadly babe-king Pawn.

The Knight
The bold Knight woke then from a dream:
"That dark king's planning up a scheme
-Take thou thy Queen and baby King,
Guard them, them to safety bring."

The King
The rescued king in safety grew
For decades three. But His court knew.
Then out among the pieces went...
Clear, then His path, make straight the bent!

The Pawns
En passant He, among the pawns
Consorted for a thousand dawns
Told of life beyond the Board...
This servant-King was not ignored.

The Dark Powers
Aligned, not allied, the dark powers
Cringing in their palace towers:
"Pawn-power makes the whole Board quake!"
Sought this regal pawn to take.

The Bishop
The bishop by the king-pawn's side
Longed to satisfy his pride
With darkness, lo! a plan he laid:
The bishop hath his King betrayed!

The Gambit
In garden while his teammates slept
The pawn king prayed and sighed and wept...
The Mover's Will be not forsaken:
Must the king himself be taken?

The Sacrifice
The board's four corners wildly quake
The Dark Side moves, the King to take
His blood poured out, his whole life gone
Sacrificed for worst and smallest pawn.


The King Returns
The Dark Side captured this king/pawn
The Board broke open at the dawn...
The King, no piece but Owner of the Board
The Dark-defeater, ever hence be He adored.
Amen. Alleluia.
Note:"hack" (first verse) - the Hebrew "bara" is the verb used to indicateGod's power of creation; it has the human sense of "hack, "throw off,chop off". (See Jaki's Genesis One and other texts)

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Dr. Thursday submitted this for my poem contest. It was too long for the limits I'd placed, so I asked his permission to post it as a regular poem. I like it because it deals with the old story in a new way--new enough, hopefully, for us to see the Incarnation for what it is. Why is it so hard for us to do this?

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