Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Quotation Tag--Day 2

I was tagged for the Quotation Tag by Rachel from Hamlette's Soliloquy. Thanks, Rachel! Here are the rules of the Quotation Tag again.

Thank the person who nominated you 
Nominate 3 new bloggers every day 
Post a new quotation every day for 3 consecutive days. 

Day One went well. Now it's time for Day Two, five days later. I understand that this is not following the rules of the tag, and I am humbled and ashamed.

Nevertheless, I have returned with quotes for you!  Today's quotes come from this man.

G.K. Chesterton, the man, the myth, the legend.  A writer in the early decades of the twentieth century, Chesterton wrote everything. Novels, poems, epic poems, plays, detective stories, biographies--the man was a fountain of words.  Reading Chesterton can fill a writer with sheer delight and awe at what you can do with words, and with despair at knowing that you yourself will never write anything to compare.

I've read only a small fraction of Chesterton's works, yet I could fill dozens of posts with his quotes. His work is lively, philosophical, optimistic, and romantic in the best sense of the word, full of humor and joy and adventure. He is my favorite writer, and one of the biggest influences on my own writing (I'll never match his style, but I hope to live up to his spirit). Despite my overwhelming enthusiasm, I'll try to narrow it down to three quotes.

The first one comes from one of my favorite essays of all time-- "On Running After One's Hat".  Follow the link to read the entire essay--it's very short and worth reading--but the quote I want to highlight is this:

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. 

It's the thesis point of the entire essay, and a lesson that I try to incorporate into my own life, to turn mundane irritations into high adventures.

The second quote comes from "Lepanto", Chesterton's poem about the Battle of Lepanto, a famous sea battle in 1571 between the Ottoman Empire and European forces assembled by the Pope. The poem is difficult to understand without a knowledge of the history of the time, but it doesn't really matter when the rhythm and language are this beautiful. This quote comes from the first half of the second stanza, when Don John, the illegitimate son of the King of Spain, answers the Pope's call for soldiers to defend Europe. The language and rhythm are so compelling that this passage almost makes me want to go to war, too.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war

After that, I think it's best to close with a reminder of Chesterton's whimsy. This quote comes from another of his essays, entitled "On Lying in Bed".

Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if one only had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling. 

 I've just realized that these quotes give a strange and incomplete picture of Chesterton as a writer. I guess Day 3 might just have to include Chesterton quotes as well. It still won't give a complete picture, but maybe it'll encourage me to finish the post on time! (And Blogger insists upon formatting this last section strangely. I apologize.)


  1. I haven't really read much Chesterton, but I love a quote of his: "Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

    1. I adore that quote. And that essay. Most of Chesterton's most quotable lines come from his essays. I had consciously stop myself from filling these quotation posts with only essay quotes.

    2. Yes! The whole essay is hilarious.