Speaking of Chesterton

By John Hertz:  Walking round the Pasadena Chalk Festival (the 26th annual, goshwow) last month, I happened to see, besides lots of swell visual art, this line from Chesterton:

If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey towards the stars?

I couldn’t place it, so I asked the American Chesterton Society, from whom I have just learned it appears in Maisie Ward’s Return to Chesterton at p. 161.

You probably know two novels of his we may say are in our field, The Napoleon of Notting Hill and The Man Who Was Thursday. He wrote 80 books, 200 short stories, 4000 essays, several hundred poems, and plays.  He illustrated the first published collection of poetry by Edmund Bentley, who invented the clerihew – indeed Clerihew was Bentley’s middle name.

Chesterton was a man of colossal genius in more ways than one, standing 6 feet (2 m) tall and weighing 20 stone (280 lb, 130 kg).  During World War I, when a lady in London asked why he was not out at the Front, he replied, “If you go round to the side, Madam, you will see that I am.”

I mustn’t omit to recommend his Charles Dickens and Saint Thomas Aquinas – I don’t apologize, the author already has.

Return to Chesterton is a supplement to Maisie Ward’s biography of him. I recommend her too.

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5 thoughts on “Speaking of Chesterton

  1. I knew he was a substantial chap, but not that large! Very extraordinary for his day.

    Lots of Chesterton’s writings are now public domain so can be read for free.

  2. “Chesterton was a man of colossal genius in more ways than one, standing 6 feet (2 m) tall and weighing 20 stone (280 lb, 130 kg).”

    6 feet is not 2 m. It is 1.83. Was there some inches missing?

  3. I was a high jumper in college. 2m is 6′ 6 3/4″. Some metric equivalents are ingrained in me.

  4. They’re approximating. Chesterton was 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weighed around 20 stone 6 pounds (130 kg; 286 lb).

    But now, for some reason, I’m poetically ear wormed with:

    Speaking of Chesterton
    Which no one was doing
    Why is he always
    Munching and chewing?
    Chewing and munching
    Munching and chewing
    Speaking of Chesterton
    Which no one was doing

  5. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    Chesterton knew more than we.
    He joked better and he may have been sly.
    One thing he could tell us is “You’ve got to be free.”
    He saw that up was past the sky.

    It’s true OGH and I are no one.
    Unity is plural, and at minimum two.
    Chewing it over is half the fun.
    Shall we suppose Chesterton could digest you?

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