Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The child speaks -- and eloquently

Though I've been reading pro-life books, periodicals, and blogs for quite some time, I had never yet encountered this poem by G. K. Chesterton, until I was browsing through a little anthology of his writings on the family that I picked up almost by accident at a used book sale. Which is surprising, since it's a moving and aesthetically appealing rebuttal to the pro-choice arguments that "I don't want to bring a child into this terrible world" and "Think of the abusive / impoverished / etc. conditions this child will be brought up in. He's better off dead."

And it's all the more effective because you only gradually understand, as you read, that the speaker is a child in the womb.

By the Babe Unborn
G. K. Chesterton

If trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.

In dark I lie: dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.

Let storm-clouds come: better an hour,
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
Within the world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.