G.K.Chesterton and the Donkey

Donkey. watercolour. 225 x 160 mm

Donkey. watercolour. 225 x 160 mm

To return to that marvellous word, ‘serendipity’; the Warthog post and the Roses post were inadvertently linked when the warthogs tried to get into my rose garden, which you may recall. This time, the last post is linked to this one by this quote from one of my favourite authors, G.K.Chesterton :

“Can the Lion lie down with the Lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted: that is the miracle she achieved.”

But the reason I chose Chesterton for this post was a favourite poem I remember from my youth, about the Donkey:

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.

I have loved it ever since because it refers to the way God chooses the humble and ugly things of this world to achieve moments of great significance. In the poem he mentions the donkey that carried Christ into Jerusalem before His crucifixion. It was also a Donkey that the Angel used to speak to the wizard Balaam. ( Numbers: 22 )

When I was young my cousin and I used to ride donkeys quite often, so I have always been fond of them. Then a few years ago we passed a donkey cart, loaded with fire wood, and stopped to take several photos. The old couple were very patient with the clicking camera. Since then, I have painted the same Donkey Cart three times. It is always a challenge to do repeats, and invariably I try to make small changes so that each is a little different.  Here are all three for you to find the differences:

First Donkey Cart, sold in Ermelo in 2006.

First Donkey Cart, sold in Ermelo in 2006.

Adelle's Donkey Cart. sold 2009, Burgersdorp.

Adelle's Donkey Cart. sold 2009, Burgersdorp.

Solomon's Donkey Cart. sold at the PE Exhibition 2009

Solomon's Donkey Cart. sold at the PE Exhibition 2009

In one of my earliest posts, I mentioned my love of lists. Well, here is a list of 20 quotes that I love, from G.K.Chesterton, and if these appeal to you, follow the link at the end to read more about this amazingly gifted writer.

1. If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.

2. Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.

3. Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.

4. Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

5. The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.

6. It is quite futile to argue that man is small compared to the cosmos; for man was always small compared to the nearest tree.

7. Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.

8. Break the conventions. Keep the commandments.

9. Don’t take a fence down until you know why it was put up.

10. The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion.

11. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

12. To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

13. When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

14. Brave men are all vertebrates; they have their softness on the surface and their toughness in the middle.

15. A room without books is like a body without a soul.

16. I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.

17. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.

18. Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

19. The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

20. Jesus promised His disciples three things- that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.


Here is the link to more about G.K.Chesterton , and the only Hymn he wrote; “O God of Earth and Altar” sung by Michael C. Simpson.





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