This Much – O Heaven

THIS much, O heaven—if I should brood or rave,

Pity me not; but let the world be fed,

Yea, in my madness if I strike me dead,

Heed you the grass that grows upon my grave.

If I dare snarl between this sun and sod,

Whimper and clamour, give me grace to own,

In sun and rain and fruit in season shown,

The shining silence of the scorn of God.

Thank God the stars are set beyond my power,

If I must travail in a night of wrath,

Thank God my tears will never vex a moth,

Nor any curse of mine cut down a flower.

Men say the sun was darkened: yet I had

Thought it beat brightly, even on—Calvary:

And He that hung upon the Torturing Tree

Heard all the crickets singing, and was glad.

That Painful Pleasure of the Soul

“[George MacDonald] was what is called a Celt and what is called a mystic. But nobody could conceivably have been more different from the Celtic mystics of to-day. First of all, of course, some of the modern Celts profess to have abandoned the moral battle, the old antithesis of sin and judgment, in favour of something that is positively sadder than war itself, a beauty more dismal than ugliness. They are all agreed that devils are not so black as they are painted; they never ask if devils are so blue as they are painted. Macdonald was a mystic who was half mad with joy, of a joy all the more violent because it remained mystical. For him the secret of the Cosmos was a secret because it was too good to tell. The stars and all things in his world tingled with the tension of that painful pleasure of the soul. For him the pity of God was so positive as to be a definite passion like thirst; it was a fierce tenderness; he was never tired of saying that his God was a consuming fire.”

G K Chesterton, The Daily News, September 23rd, 1905

The Vigilance of the Universal Power

“Dr. Macdonald enters fairyland like a citizen returning to his home. But though a genuine mystic and a genuine Celt, he has not reappeared in the movement of Celtic mysticism which has taken place in our time, chiefly because of that singular idea which has taken possession of it, that it is the duty of a mystic to be melancholy. It will take them a century or two perhaps to realise the truth that Dr. Macdonald, I fancy, has always known, that melancholy is a frivolous thing compared with the seriousness of joy. Melancholy is negative, and has to do with trivialities like death: joy is positive and has to answer for the renewal and perpetuation of being. Melancholy is irresponsible; it could watch the universe fall to pieces: joy is responsible and upholds the universe in the void of space. This conception of the vigilance of the universal Power fills all Dr. Macdonald’s novels with the unfathomable gravity of complete happiness, the gravity of a child at play.”

G K Chesterton, The Daily News, June 11th, 1901

Unlimited, Undefined and Undefended

Liberty has produced scepticism, and scepticism has destroyed liberty. The lovers of liberty thought they were leaving it unlimited, when they were only leaving it undefined. They thought they were only leaving it undefined, when they were really leaving it undefended.

~G.K. Chesterton: “Eugenics and Other Evils.”

The Sun is Gone Down

The sun is gone down

And the moon’s in the sky

But the sun will come up

And the moon be laid by.

The flower is asleep.

But it is not dead,

When the morning shines

It will lift its head.

When winter comes

It will die! No, no,

It will only hide

From the frost and snow.

Sure is the summer,

Sure is the sun;

The night and the winter

Away they run.

– George McDonald

The Idea of Liberty

“The idea of liberty has ultimately a religious root; that is why men find it so easy to die for and so difficult to define. It refers finally to the fact that, while the oyster and the palm tree have to save their lives by law, man has to save his soul by choice.”

—GK Chesterton (“The Free Man,” A Miscellany of Men)