Monday, December 03, 2007

On butterfly wings and hope

I mentioned earlier that my 'good swag' included a book of reflections for Advent and Christmas. The first of those reflections was on the gift of hope which, according to GK Chesterton, is "the last gift given to man, and the only gift not given to youth." This struck me as an unusual observation at first; is youth not the time of optimism and enthusiasm? I pondered this for a while and came to understand his viewpoint: youth is the time when "...the end of every episode is the end of the world." How well I remember those hopeless endings!

So, I have to agree with GK that "the power of hoping through everything" comes in middle age and that it is "from the backs of elderly gentlemen that the wings of the butterfly should burst."

(I am aware that this post does not contain inclusive language but then, GK Chesterton lived in very un-PC times! I'm also conscious of the fact that I have written the venerable name several times and the GKC police will be after me again. If you have been offended by this post, please don't send me nasty emails, I've had enough.)


  1. Have you seriously had emails complaining about "non-inclusive" language quoted from dead writers?

    Bunch of old ladies! (And I mean that in the most inclusive way.)

  2. Indeed I have, David, plus nasty threats for anti-feminist sentiments!

  3. Never mind Cohen, he's hopeless. I'm all for inclusive language. Let's see, now:

    from the backs of elderly (but not patriarchical) gentlemen, womyn, small people, and other species, whether gay, straight or transsexual, of all nations (especially non-Western) and colours (especially non-white), of all creeds and faiths (except Islamicists and fundamentalists from Kansas) that the wings of the butterfly should burst."

    Works just as well, no?

  4. Peter, you should submit that to one of the Chesterton societies. They will possibly use it in the next revised edition of the Complete Works but, more probably, send you literary death threats!

  5. And I hate to see ageism rear its ugly head on a public forum.


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