And All was Well


Sudden I grew aware I was new-born;
All pain had vanished in the absorbent swell
     Of some exalting peace that was my own;
     As the moon dwelt in heaven did calmness dwell
At home in me, essential. The earth’s moan
Lay all behind. Had I then lost my part
In human griefs, dear part with them that groan ?
“‘Tis weariness ! ” I said; but with a start
That set it trembling and yet brake it not,
     I found the peace was love. Oh, my rich heart!
For, every time I spied a glimmering spot
Of window pane, “There, in that silent room,”
Thought I, ” mayhap sleeps human heart whose lot
Is therefore dear to mine ! ” I cared for whom
I saw not, had not seen, and might not see!
After the love crept prone its shadow-gloom,
But instant a mightier love arose in me,
    As in an ocean a single wave will swell,
     And heaved the shadow to the centre: we
Had called it prayer, before on sleep I fell.
It sank, and left my sea in holy calm:
I gave each man to God, and all was well.
And in my heart stirred soft a sleeping psalm.

—George MacDonald

The Course of True Love


Ay me! For aught that I could ever read,

Could ever hear by tale or history,

The course of true love never did run smooth:

O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low!

Or else misgraffed in respect of years; —

O spite! Too old to be engag’d to young!

Or else it stood upon the choice of friends:

O hell! to chose by love another’s eye!

Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,

War, death, or sickness, did lay siege to it,

Making it momentary as a sound,

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;

Brief as the lightning in the collied night

That in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,

And ere a man hath power to say, Behold!

The jaws of darkness do devour it up:

So quick bright things come to confusion.

If then true lovers have been ever cross’d,

It stands as an edict in destiny:

Then let us teach our trial patience,

Because it is a customary cross; (sighs)

As due to love as thoughts, and dreams, and

Wishes, and tears, poor fancy’s followers.


— Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


A Wedding in War Time

Our God who made two lovers in a garden,

And smote them separate and set them free,

Their four eyes wild for wonder and wrath and pardon

And their kiss thunder as lips of land and sea:

Each rapt unendingly beyond the other,

Two starry worlds of unknown gods at war,

Wife and not mate, a man and not a brother,

We thank thee thou hast made us what we are.


Make not the grey slime of infinity

To swamp these flowers thou madest one by one;

Let not the light that was thine enemy

Mix a mad twilight of the moon and sun;

Waken again to thunderclap and clamour

The wonder of our sundering and the song,

Or break our hearts with thine hell-shattering hammer

But leave a shade between us all day long.


Shade of high shame and honourable blindness

When youth, in storm of dizzy and distant things,

Finds the wild windfall of a little kindness

When the one head that turns the heavens in turning

Moves yet as lightly as a lingering bird,

And red and random, blown astray but burning,

Like a lost spark goes by the glorious word.


Make not this sex, this other side of things,

A thing less distant than the world’s desire;

What colour to the to the end of evening clings

And what far cry of frontiers and what fire

Fallen too far beyond the sun for seeking,

Let it divide us though our kingdom come;

With a far signal in our secret speaking

To hang the proud horizon in our home.


Once we were one, a shapeless cloud that lingers

Loading  the seas and shutting out the skies,

One with the woods, a monster of myriad fingers,

You laid on me no finger of surprise.

One with the stars, a god with myriad eyes,

I saw you nowhere and was blind for scorn:

One till the world was riven and the rise

Of the white days when you and I were born.


Darkens the world: the world-old fetters rattle;

And these that have no hope behind the sun

May feed like bondmen and may breed like cattle,

One in the darkness as the dead are one;

Us if the rended grave give up its glory

Trumpets shall summon asunder and face to face:

We will be strangers in so strange a story

And wonder, meeting in so wild a place.


Ah, not in vain or utterly for loss

Come even the black flag and the battle-hordes,

If these grey devils flee the sign of the cross

Even in the symbol of the crossing swords.

Nor shall death doubt Who made our souls alive

Swords meeting and not stakes set side by side,

Bade us in the sunburst and the thunder thrive

Earthquake and Dawn; the bridegroom and the bride.


Death and not dreams or doubt of things undying,

Of whose the holy hearth or whose the sword;

Though sacred spirits dissever in strong crying

Into Thy hands, but Thy two hands, O Lord,

Though not in Earth as once in Eden standing,

So plain again we see Thee what thou art,

As in this blaze, the blasting and the branding

of this wild wedding where we meet and part.


— GK Chesterton (1918-19)




My Only Day

Afresh I seek Thee.

Lead me once more I pray–

Even should it be against my will, Thy way.

Let me not feel Thee foreign any hour,

or shrink from Thee as an estranged power.

Through doubt, through faith, through bliss, through stark dismay;

Through sunshine, wind, or snow, or fog, or shower–

Draw me to Thee who are my only Day.
—George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

The Neglect of All Fine Thinking

THE temporary decline of theology had involved the neglect of philosophy and all fine thinking, and Bernard Shaw had to find shaky justifications in Schopenhauer for the sons of God shouting for joy. He called it the Will to Live — a phrase invented by Prussian professors who would like to exist but can’t. Afterwards he asked people to worship the Life-Force; as if one could worship a hyphen.”
~G.K. Chesterton: “George Bernard Shaw.”

The Thing, & Not the Thing

The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. A good many theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work…Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. 

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

That Wrong Measure

Nor mete out truth and right-deserving praise,  By that wrong measure of confusion  The vulgar foot: that never takes his ways  By reason, but by imitation;  Rolling on with the rest, and never weighs  The course which he should go, but what is gone.Nor mete out truth and right-deserving praise,

By that wrong measure of confusion

The vulgar foot: that never takes his ways

By reason, but by imitation;

Rolling on with the rest, and never weighs

The course which he should go, but what is gone.

Well were it with mankind, if what the most

Did like were best, but ignorance will live

By others square, as by example lost;

And man to man must the hand of error give

That none can fall alone at their own cost,

And all because men judge not, but believe.

For what poor bounds have they whom but the earth bounds,

What is their end whereto their care attains,

When the thing got relieves not, but confounds

Having but travail to succeed their pains?

What joy hath he of living that propounds

Affliction but his end, and grief his gains?

Gathering, encroching, wresting, joining to,

Destroying, building, decking, furnishing,

Repairing, altering, and so much ado

To his soul’s toil, and bodies travailing:

And all this doth he little knowing who

Fortune ordains to have the inheriting.

And his fair house raised high in envy’s eye,

Whose pillars reared perhaps on blood & wrong