A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

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"The Speaker" Articles

A book I published containing 112 pieces Chesterton wrote for the newspaper "The Speaker" at the beginning of his career.

They are also available for free electronically on another blog of mine here, if you wish to read them that way.




Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Song Against Grocers

[From Chesterton's novel The Flying Inn- lol.]

The Song Against Grocers

"God made the wicked Grocer,
For a mystery and a sign,
That men might shun the awful shops,
And go to inns to dine;
Where the bacon's on the rafter
And the wine is in the wood,
And God that made good laughter
Has seen that they are good.

"The evil-hearted Grocer
Would call his mother 'Ma'am,'
And bow at her and bob at her,
Her aged soul to damn;
And rub his horrid hands and ask,
What article was next;
Though mortis in articulo,
Should be her proper text.

"His props are not his children
But pert lads underpaid,
Who call out 'Cash!' and bang about,
To work his wicked trade;
He keeps a lady in a cage,
Most cruelly all day,
And makes her count and calls her 'Miss,'
Until she fades away.

"The righteous minds of inn-keepers
Induce them now and then
To crack a bottle with a friend,
Or treat unmoneyed men;
But who hath seen the Grocer
Treat housemaids to his teas,
Or crack a bottle of fish-sauce,
Or stand a man a cheese?

"He sells us sands of Araby
As sugar for cash down,
He sweeps his shop and sells the dust,
The purest salt in town;
He crams with cans of poisoned meat
Poor subjects of the King,
And when they die by thousands
Why, he laughs like anything.

"The Wicked Grocer groces
In spirits and in wine,
Not frankly and in fellowship,
As men in inns do dine;
But packed with soap and sardines
And carried off by grooms,
For to be snatched by Duchesses,
And drunk in dressing-rooms.

"The hell-instructed Grocer
Has a temple made of tin,
And the ruin of good inn-keepers
Is loudly urged therein;
But now the sands are running out
From sugar of a sort,
The Grocer trembles; for his time
Just like his weight is short."

4 comments:

Tevildo said...

A pity that things have turned out the other way around, with inns closing and everyone buying their drink from supermarkets instead - but, that's Capitalism.

Mike said...

:-(

Anonymous said...

I've loved Chesterton from a lad, but how do you work out the Capitalism bit? Been in Communist countries, precious few inns there.

Mike said...

I cannot speak for Tevildo, of course, of whom I know nothing admittedly. And certainly I would not wish to get into a discussion on the merits or lack thereof of various economic systems, a subject of which I am deeply ignorant.

However, I do think it relevant to point out that Tevildo never defended Communism. He only criticized Capitalism. Such would reflect the attitude of Chesterton himself, no? Chesterton also criticized Capitalism plenty in his writings (such as in "The Outline of Sanity", for instance), but obviously he was no fan of Communism, either, which he also criticized plenty. In fact, Chesterton stated that both Capitalism and Communism rested on the same idea: "a centralization of wealth which destroys private property." Chesterton instead preferred what he called "distributism", which among other things he described as "private property universal but private."

As I said, I am not one who is able to comment much as to the merits of Chesterton's ideas concerning distributism other than in generalities. And since you stated that you've "loved Chesterton from a lad", I might be telling you plenty of things you already know, in which case I apologize for stating things of which you are already aware.

Basically, my main point was simply that, while I know nothing of Tevildo, he very well could be criticizing Capitalism from the perspective of a distributist (and indeed, that is what my assumption was).