Sunday with The World State by G K Chesterton :: Poem

I think it has literally taken me a few years to adjust to Sunday being a work day, and I have grown to absolutely love late Sunday afternoons after all the services and meetings are over. It’s one of those few times during the week I get (usually) a few quiet uninterrupted hours to spend with Deborah watching a game or to read. A while back on the recommendation from Piper on the Role of Poetry in the Christian Life I picked up the book A Sacrifice of Praise, An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century (yes, I seem to just find books with long titles). I came across this poem by Chesterton, with a short title, called The World State I thought I would share below.

The World State

Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!

The International Idea,
The largest and the clearest,
Is welding all the nations now,
Except the one that’s nearest.

The compromise has long been known,
This scheme of partial pardons,
In ethical societies
And small suburban gardens—

The villas and the chapels where
I learned with little labour
The way to love my fellow-man
And hate my next-door neighbour.

I love the subtle in your face presentation of the “second greatest commandment” here found in Matthew 22. There is just something about the Brits and the French that make me laugh and I can hear this poem being read aloud in a British pub somewhere like The Eagle and the Child in that awesome British accent. Chesterton was a poet, writer, and literary critic in the very early 1900’s and was friends with H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, and others. He also wrote, among many other things, Saint Francis of Assisi.

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