Poetry

The meeting in October was devoted to poetry. Our Founder, Scott Wilson, was out of town that evening, so Kevin O’Brien and I took the wheel. Longtime members may know that I’m not too fond of poetry, but Chesterton’s poetry is tolerable (mostly) for me: at least it has meter and rhyme and is therefore recognizable as poetry. But when I need Google to even begin to understand what’s not quite being said, well, I simply haven’t that much patience.

Kevin says I don’t like modern poetry, and neither did Chesterton. The Great One is said to have once quipped: “‘Free verse’? You may as well call sleeping in a ditch ‘free architecture.'” A discussion of T.S. Elliot ensued. Of course, since I don’t care much for poetry in general, I don’t know anything about Eliot’s poems except that they often had a clipped form that has no meter and doesn’t rhyme. Chesterton evidently didn’t like Eliot’s poetry either, and wrote this response to his work. You’ll have to scroll down a bit. Joseph Pearce (who will be in St. Louis in January) thinks Chesterton was wrong about Eliot. I am not so sure.

Kevin read Chesterton’s  A Ballade of Suicide for us, and The Donkey. Kevin pointed out how Chesterton always celebrated the overlooked things, and how he made alusion to other bits of our literary culture. Eventually we read another poem The Praise of Dust that illustrated both ideas further.  Yours truly brought in a little poem that G.K. had embedded in a novel (The Flying Inn) — sort of a workingman’s drinking song at a (fictional) time when drinking was mostly forbidden. 

Patty brought in a book of Chesterton’s poetry and read The Song of Quoodle for us, a poem that is cutsey and serious at the same time. Maybe Chesterton’s poetry will grow on me after all. But it’ll be an uphill battle.

We did have a newcomer: Sister Jessica of the Daughters of St. Paul joined us, and she seemed to have a very fine time. I suppose we’ll know by whether she comes back again <grin>.

I’m sure there was more that I simply don’t remember. Our thanks to everyone who came to share and appreciate the poetry of Chesterton.

Tom Leith

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