Friday, November 27, 2009

Four by G. K. Chesterton

A Grace

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.


I thank thee, O Lord, for the stones in the street
I thank thee for the hay-carts yonder and for the houses built and half-built
That fly past me as I stride.
But most of all for the great wind in my nostrils
As if thine own nostrils were close.


Once I looked down at my bootlaces
Who gave me my bootlacees?
The bootmaker? Bah!
Who gave the bootmaker himself?
What did I ever do that I should be given bootlaces?


Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

* * *

Of all the virtues GKC had -- and he had quite a few, from a talent with words to some excellent common sense -- I think my favorite is his gratitude. He honestly was grateful for everything. For haycarts in the street, and for bootlaces. Every little thing proved to him the loving care of God. In this way, he was like a guest who arrives at a house and carefully notices everything that has been done for him: "Oh, I love the little soaps you put out! Why, there are flowers in my room! A mint is on my pillow! You didn't have to go to all this trouble!"

Why is it that we are thankful for the towel left folded on the foot of our bed when we are staying at someone's house, but we are not thankful for the dew left on the grass in the morning? Both were done because someone was excited to have us here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

You Ruined Everything

by Jonathon Coulton

I was fine
I pulled myself together
Just in time
To throw myself away
Once my perfect world was gone I knew
You ruined everything
In the nicest way

You should know
How great things were before you
Even so
They’re better still today
I can’t think of who I was before
You ruined everything
In the nicest way

Bumps in the road remind us
The worst of the best's behind us
Only good things will find us
Me and you

Days will be clear and sunny
We’re gonna need more money
Baby you know it’s funny
All those stories coming true

Despite my better efforts
It’s all for you
The worst kind of cliche
I’ll be with you till the day you leave
You ruined everything
In the nicest way

* * *

I admit that this is a song lyric and not, technically, a poem in the strict sense. However, for all I generally don't post song lyrics on here, I do believe that some of them can be appreciated as poems in their own right. Most things I listen to, I listen to for the lyrics.

This song is by Jonathan Coulton, a musician John introduced me to. His songs are generally funny, but they often have real meaning behind them. (Admittedly, the one about the zombies in the office building, or Leonard Nimoy and the Sasquatch, might not have the same depth.) He wrote this song about the birth of his daughter. To quote his explanation,

"I was having a conversation with a friend who had recently become a parent, and she reminded me of something I had forgotten about since my daughter was born. She was describing this what-have-I-done feeling - I just got everything perfect in my life, and then I went and messed it all up by having a baby. I don’t feel that way anymore, but the thought certainly crossed my mind a few times at the beginning."

I sing this song to the baby a lot, on the way home from work. I know that nothing will be the same after the little stranger is born. But I don't mind all that. In fact, even at the moments when I'm lying around moaning because I feel wretched, I tend to add, "But I don't regret being pregnant! I know having a baby is worth this!" (See if I shout the same in labor. ;) )

I feel like I'm coming to love this little mystery, even though I don't know him or her at all. All I have to go on is a fuzzy 7-week ultrasound (looks like a blob, though when you could see it moving and the heart beating it looked a bit more human. (Note: 7-week babies are pretty well-developed -- just too small for an ultrasound to show in any detail.) ), two times of hearing the heartbeat, and my own symptoms. For instance, I know, based on my weird and varied cravings, that this will not be an easy kid to please. Also that, so far at least, there is no suggestion that this will be an "easy baby."

If anyone knows of any poems about unborn babies that I haven't posted yet (and are any good) please do email me. (The address should be posted someplace: at any rate it is enchiridion1 at yahoo dot com.) I really like those poems these days, and want to post more of the same, but so few people have written on this topic. (Does anyone sense a contest coming?)