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The Man Who Was Thursday

A Nightmare

Table of Contents

G. K. Chesterton
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The book was called The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. It was not intended to describe the real world as it was, or as I thought it was, even when my thoughts were considerably less settled than they are now. It was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimist were generally describing at that date; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fashion.
G. K. Chesterton
in an article in the Illustrated London News,
13 June 1936 (the day before his death)
Table of contents
Chapter NameChapter Title
Chapter IThe Two Poets of Saffron Park
Chapter IIThe Secret of Gabriel Syme
Chapter IIIThe Man Who Was Thursday
Chapter VIThe Tale of a Detective
Chapter VThe Feast of Fear
Chapter VIThe Exposure
Chapter VIIThe Unaccountable Conduct of Professor de Worms
Chapter VIIIThe Professor Explains
Chapter IXThe Man in Spectacles
Chapter XThe Duel
Chapter XIThe Criminals Chase the Police
Chapter XIIThe Earth in Anarchy
Chapter XIIIThe Pursuit of the President
Chapter XIVThe Six Philosophers
Chapter XVThe Accuser
A cloud was on the mind of men
   And wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul
   When we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity
   And art admired decay;
The world was old and ended:
   But you and I were gay;
Round us in antic order
   Their crippled vices came—
Lust that had lost its laughter,
   Fear that had lost its shame.
Like the white lock of Whistler,
   That lit our aimless gloom,
Men showed their own white feather
   As proudly as a plume.
Life was a fly that faded,
   And death a drone that stung;
The world was very old indeed
   When you and I were young.
They twisted even decent sin
   To shapes not to be named:
Men were ashamed of honour;
   But we were not ashamed.
Weak if we were and foolish,
   Not thus we failed, not thus;
When that black Baal blocked the heavens
   He had no hymns from us
Children we were—our forts of sand
   Were even as weak as we,
High as they went we piled them up
   To break that bitter sea.
Fools as we were in motley,
   All jangling and absurd,
When all church bells were silent
   Our cap and beds were heard.
Not all unhelped we held the fort,
   Our tiny flags unfurled;
Some giants laboured in that cloud
   To lift it from the world.
I find again the book we found,
   I feel the hour that flings
Far out of fish-shaped Paumanok
   Some cry of cleaner things;
And the Green Carnation withered,
   As in forest fires that pass,
Roared in the wind of all the world
   Ten million leaves of grass;
Or sane and sweet and sudden as
   A bird sings in the rain—
Truth out of Tusitala spoke
   And pleasure out of pain.
Yea, cool and clear and sudden as
   A bird sings in the grey,
Dunedin to Samoa spoke,
   And darkness unto day.
But we were young; we lived to see
   God break their bitter charms.
God and the good Republic
   Come riding back in arms:
We have seen the City of Mansoul,
   Even as it rocked, relieved—
Blessed are they who did not see,
   But being blind, believed.
This is a tale of those old fears,
   Even of those emptied hells,
And none but you shall understand
   The true thing that it tells—
Of what colossal gods of shame
   Could cow men and yet crash,
Of what huge devils hid the stars,
   Yet fell at a pistol flash.
The doubts that were so plain to chase,
   So dreadful to withstand—
Oh, who shall understand but you;
   Yea, who shall understand?
The doubts that drove us through the night
   As we two talked amain,
And day had broken on the streets
   E’er it broke upon the brain.
Between us, by the peace of God,
   Such truth can now be told;
Yea, there is strength in striking root,
   And good in growing old.
We have found common things at last,
   And marriage and a creed,
And I may safely write it now,
   And you may safely read.
G. K. C.
Table of related information
Copyright ©G. K. Chesterton, 1908
By the same author RSSThere are no more works at
Date of publicationNovember 2004
Collection RSSWorldwide Classics
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