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.
G.K. Chesterton 1874 - 1936
I have loved this poem ever since I first read it in Palgrave’s Golden Treasury some time in my early teens. Donkeys may not be the most beautiful creatures alive (though I think they have a fuzzy cuteness which few other animals possess) but they are humble and hard-working. Perhaps you are thinking that this is a strange subject for a blog post. But in a society that exalts the stallions of this world, it is easy to forget the weak and the down-trodden, the minorities without a voice; the emarginated; the ‘tattered outlaw(s) of the earth’. In my own round-about way, I wanted to acknowledge them; to reach out to them. To tell them that, in the end, they too will have their moment of glory.
Location: Rabat, April 2012