Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Gazing upward at night (with Chesterton)" - a poem

(photo: Wikipedia)

Today, May 29, is the birthday of writer G.K. Chesterton, who was born in 1874 and died in 1936. In one of my posts from a while back, I  quoted from a passage in his spiritual memoir Orthodoxy in which he tells of his conversion to Christianity. He describes the experience like cogs in a machine clicking into place: everything he'd been questioning and pondering suddenly made sense, and all his "blind fancies of boyhood ... became suddenly transparent and sane."

My favourite sentence in his conversion account is this one: "The fancy that the cosmos was not vast and void, but small and cosy, had a fulfilled significance now, for anything that is a work of art must be small in the sight of the artist; to God the stars might be only small and dear, like diamonds." 

I love his description of the universe as "small and cosy," not cold and impersonal, and of God seeing the stars as "small and dear." In fact, I've looked at the night sky and, as I describe here, experienced that same sense of warmth and closeness.

Chesterton's words inspired me to write this poem. Today, being his birthday, seems the right time to share it.

Gazing upward at night (with Chesterton)

So I was thinking that if the stars
are (to You) small and dear, diamonds
skeined through the tissue of sky
by Your fond fingers,

and if, on any given night, You do not merely
stand back, admiring Your astral handiwork (finished
an infinite number of nights ago), but instead
begin afresh, newly sequinning the heavens –
naming, calling, loving each
and every star
for pure delight
alone –

well, then, I wondered
whether perhaps Your thoughts of me
are even more precious – that maybe
rather than surveying me from afar, You long to
catch my hand, swing me
into the celestial dance, laughter me
through the cosy vastness, while the stars
sing around us, joying in
Your delight in
(small, dear)



  1. "laughter me through the cosy vastness"

    This is what joy in the Lord is like, Jeannie. He holds us close and we join in the heavenly laughter. You've done Chesterton proud.

    1. Thank you, Tim! I appreciate that very much.

  2. I also love the idea of the universe being small and cosy! And yes, then we must be smaller and dearer than the stars. Beautiful poem, Jeannie.


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