A Chord of Color
My Lady clad herself in grey,
That caught and clung about her throat;
Then all the long grey winter day
On me a living splendour smote;
And why grey palmers holy are,
And why grey minsters great in story,
And grey skies ring the morning star,
And grey hairs are a crown of glory.
My Lady clad herself in green,
Like meadows where the wind-waves pass;
Then round my spirit spread, I ween,
A splendour of forgotten grass.
Then all that dropped of stem or sod,
Hoarded as emeralds might be,
I bowed to every bush, and trod
Amid the live grass fearfully.
My Lady clad herself in blue,
Then on me, like the seer long gone,
The likeness of a sapphire grew,
The throne of him that sat thereon.
Then knew I why the Fashioner
Splashed reckless blue on sky and sea;
And ere ’twas good enough for her,
He tried it on Eternity.
Beneath the gnarled old Knowledge-tree
Sat, like an owl, the evil sage:
‘The World’s a bubble,’ solemnly
He read, and turned a second page.
‘A bubble, then, old crow,’ I cried,
‘God keep you in your weary wit!
‘A bubble—have you ever spied
‘The colours I have seen on it?’
– G. K. Chesterton
In this poem Chesterton returns to a theme that he used throughout his life: that the world is full of surprising and amazing beauty which we often fail to notice. In this poem the narrator speaks of nature as lady and notes her changing countenance. One day is gray and cloudy, another is a sunny spring day with green all around, and a day spent at sea means blue everywhere. The narrator notes a particular beauty in each case and uses it to better appreciate various things. Then he encounters an “evil sage” who tries to trivialize the world by calling it a bubble. The narrator promptly turns this insult around by references the many colors than can be seen on a bubble.
I wish that somebody had introduced me to this poem earlier in life because there was a time when I badly needed to hear the message. There was a time when I drifted perilously close to the philosophy of the evil sage, thinking that the entire world was trivial, worthless, a joke. Realizing how amazing and beautiful the world actually is was part of the process by which I came alive in Christ.