The Donkey

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Translated by Timothy Adès

When fishes flew and forests walked
   And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
   Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
   And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
   On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
   Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
   I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
   One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
   And palms before my feet.
errabant sylvae, pecus et squamosa volabat,
fructus erat sento ficus opima vepri,
deinde cruentata surrexit imagine luna:
scilicet in tali tempore natus ego.
en asini deforme caput, damnosa querela,
auris inassueto devia pinna loco!
me gentem Stygia illudens fabricavit Erinys,
quattuor in pedibus quot properamus iter.
ille ego, terrarum lacer et miserabilis exsul :
haeret in antiquo mens mea prava modo.
verberer, esuriam, illudar: tamen usque tacebo:
quicquid secreto novimus, usque latet.
o stulti! mihi enim fuit et mirabilis hora,
una fuit dudum dulcis et acris item :
namque resultavit multorum clamor in aures,
et tetigit nostros plurima palma pedes.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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