Broken Down Poetry

“I went home very quietly, as I say, thinking about the strange elements that not only combine to make life, but must be combined in our idea of life, before we can form a true theory about it. Now-a-days, the vulgar notion of what is life-like in any annals is to be realised by sternly excluding everything but the commonplace; and the means, at least, are often attained, with this much of the end as well—that the appearance life bears to vulgar minds is represented with a wonderful degree of success. But I believe that this is, at least, quite as unreal a mode of representing life as the other extreme, wherein the unlikely, the romantic, and the uncommon predominate. I doubt whether there is a single history—if one could only get at the whole of it—in which there is not a considerable admixture of the unlikely become fact, including a few strange coincidences; of the uncommon, which, although striking at first, has grown common from familiarity with its presence as our own; with even, at least, some one more or less rosy touch of what we call the romantic.

My own conviction is, that the poetry is far the deepest in us, and that the prose is only broken-down poetry;

and likewise that to this our lives correspond. The poetic region is the true one, and just, THEREFORE, the incredible one to the lower order of mind; for although every mind is capable of the truth, or rather capable of becoming capable of the truth, there may lie ages between its capacity and the truth. As you will hear some people read poetry so that no mortal could tell it was poetry, so do some people read their own lives and those of others.”

Excerpt From

Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/annals-of-a-quiet-neighbourhood/id501016131?mt=11

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Necessary Food

“How many people would like to be good, if only they might be good without taking trouble about it! They do not like goodness well enough to hunger and thirst after it, or to sell all that they have that they may buy it; they will not batter at the gate of the kingdom of Heaven; but they look with pleasure on this or that aerial castle of righteousness, and think it would be rather nice to live in it! They do not know that it is goodness all the time their very being is pining after, and that they are starving their nature of its necessary food.”

–George MacDonald

A Living Sacrifice

A vision of sonship in our Lord:

“The last act of our Lord in thus commending his spirit at the close of his life, was only a summing up of what he had been doing all his life. He had been offering this sacrifice, the sacrifice of himself, all the years, and in thus sacrificing he had lived the divine life. Every morning when he went out ere it was day, every evening when he lingered on the night-lapt mountain after his friends were gone, he was offering himself to his Father in the communion of loving words, of high thoughts, of speechless feelings; and, between, he turned to do the same thing in deed, namely, in loving word, in helping thought, in healing action towards his fellows; for the way to worship God while the daylight lasts is to work; the service of God, the only “divine service,” is the helping of our fellows.”

– George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, The Eloi

A vision of discipleship, and the path to the healing of the hearts of men:

“Troubled soul, thou art not bound to feel, but thou art bound to arise. God loves thee whether thou feelest or not. Thou canst not love when thou wilt, but thou art bound to fight the hatred in thee to the last. Try not to feel good when thou art not good, but cry to Him who is good. He changes not because thou changest. Nay, he has an especial tenderness of love towards thee for that thou art in the dark and hast no light, and his heart is glad when thou dost arise and say, “I will go to my Father.” For he sees thee through all the gloom through which thou canst not see him. Will thou his will. Say to him: “My God, I am very dull and low and hard; but thou art wise and high and tender, and thou art my God. I am thy child. Forsake me not.” Then fold the arms of thy faith, and wait in quietness until light goes up in thy darkness. Fold the arms of thy Faith I say, but not of thy Action: bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go and do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feelings: Do thy work.”

– George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, The Hands of the Father

 

 

“Rise; take up thy bed, and walk.” (John 5:8)

Gods Behind the Gods

“Between this sunken pride and the towering humilities of heaven there are, one must suppose, spirits of shapes and sizes. Man, in encountering them, must make much the same mistakes that he makes in encountering any other varied types in any other distant continent. It must be hard at first to know who is supreme and who is subordinate. If a shade arose from the under world, and stared at Piccadilly, that shade would not quite understand the idea of an ordinary closed carriage. He would suppose that the coachman on the box was a triumphant conqueror, dragging behind him a kicking and imprisoned captive. So, if we see spiritual facts for the first time, we may mistake who is uppermost. It is not enough to find the gods; they are obvious; we must find God, the real chief of the gods.”

GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy

A Constant Fighting

“The Christian life is a constant fighting. ‘What! are we to have no peace?’ No; none till there is no sin left in you, till you are pure as Jesus Christ Himself. You are always crying out for peace, and you are as the workman that will go to sleep half the day and complain that he has not wages enough to live upon. What! You are getting to heaven cheap? You call it ‘getting into heaven.’ You think Jesus Christ came to save you from any suffering and to do you good. He came to save you from your sins, and until you are saved from them, He will step between you and no suffering. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous, therefore, and repent.”

George MacDonald, To the Church of the Laodiceans

What is to come

What is to come we know not. But we know

That what has been was good – was good to show,

Better to hide and best of all to bear,

We are the masters of the days that were;

We have lived, we have loved, we have suffered… Even so.

Shall we not take the ebb who had the flow?

Life was our friend? Now, if it be our foe–

Dear, though it spoil and break us! – Need we care what is to come?

Let the great winds their worst and wildest blow,

Or the cold weather round us mellow slow;

We have fulfilled ourselves, and we can dare

And we can conquer, though we may not share

In the rich quiet of the afterglow

What is to come.

William Earnest Henley

A Pilgrimage of Discovery

“I find everywhere, even in his mere diction and syntax, that thing that is the whole philosophy of fairy-tales, of the old romances and even of the absurd libretto of the little theater – the conception that man is born with hope and courage indeed, but born outside that which he was meant to attain; there is a quest, a test, a trial by combat or pilgrimage of discovery; in other words, whatever else man is he is not sufficient to himself, either through peace or through despair. The very movement of the sentence is the movement of man going somewhere and generally fighting something; and that is where optimism and pessimism are alike opposed to that ultimate or potential peace, which the violent take by storm.”

GK Chesterton, on Robert Louis Stevenson