'The Donkey' by G.K. Chesterton

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When forests walked and fishes flewAnd figs grew upon thorn,Some moment when the moon was blood,Then, surely, I was born.With monstrous head and sickening brayAnd ears like errant wings-The devil's walking parodyOf all four-footed things:The battered outlaw of the earthOf ancient crooked will;Scourge, beat, deride me-I am dumb-I keep my secret still.Fools! For I also had my hour-One far fierce hour and sweet:There was a shout around my headAnd palms about my feet.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Donkey by G.K. Chesterton: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Are you familiar with The Donkey by G.K. Chesterton? If not, let me tell you that it is a beautiful poem that celebrates the humble and often-overlooked animal that carried Mary to Bethlehem. The poem has a simple structure and language, but its message is profound and timeless.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in The Donkey and how they contribute to the poem's meaning and significance.


One of the primary themes of The Donkey is humility. The donkey is an animal that symbolizes humility and service, and Chesterton uses it as a metaphor for the virtues that he admires. The donkey is not a glamorous animal, but it is faithful and reliable, and it carries Mary and the unborn Christ child to their destination.

Another theme of the poem is redemption. The donkey is redeemed from its lowly status and becomes a hero by carrying the savior of the world. The act of carrying Mary and Jesus is transformative for the donkey, and it becomes a symbol of the divine in the world.


The imagery used in The Donkey is simple yet effective. Chesterton uses vivid descriptions to create a picture of the donkey in the reader's mind. For example, he describes the donkey's "furry ears" and "shaggy coat," which evoke a sense of warmth and comfort. He also uses imagery to create a contrast between the donkey's lowly appearance and its noble purpose.

The most powerful image in the poem is that of Mary riding the donkey. This image represents the humble and obedient service that the donkey provides, and it also emphasizes Mary's own humility and willingness to rely on a humble animal for transportation.


The language of The Donkey is simple and straightforward, but it is also lyrical and memorable. Chesterton's use of rhyme and repetition gives the poem a musical quality that makes it easy to read and remember. The poem's language also reinforces its themes of humility and redemption.

For example, the repetition of the phrase "he carried" emphasizes the donkey's service and provides a sense of rhythm and pacing to the poem. Similarly, the use of the word "sorrow" to describe the donkey's burden creates a sense of empathy and compassion for the animal.


The Donkey is a poem that celebrates humility and service, and it reminds us that even the most lowly and humble creatures can play an important role in the divine plan. The donkey's service to Mary and Jesus is transformative, and it becomes a symbol of the redemptive power of love and service.

The poem also highlights the importance of humility and obedience in our own lives. Like the donkey, we should be willing to serve others and to put our own needs and desires aside in order to fulfill a higher purpose. The poem's message is universal and timeless, and it reminds us of the power of love and service to transform our own lives and the world around us.


In conclusion, The Donkey by G.K. Chesterton is a beautiful and inspiring poem that celebrates the humble and often-overlooked donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem. The poem's themes of humility and redemption, its vivid imagery, and its lyrical language all contribute to its message of love and service. This poem is a masterpiece of English literature, and it continues to inspire and uplift readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Donkey by G.K. Chesterton: A Masterpiece of Satirical Poetry

If you are a lover of poetry, then you must have come across the classic poem, The Donkey, written by G.K. Chesterton. This masterpiece of satirical poetry is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the power of satire in literature. In this article, we will take a detailed look at The Donkey and explore its themes, literary devices, and historical context.

The Donkey is a short poem that tells the story of a donkey who is tired of being a beast of burden and longs for a life of freedom. The poem is written in the first person, with the donkey himself narrating his story. The poem begins with the donkey describing his life as a pack animal, carrying heavy loads on his back day after day. He complains that he is treated like a machine, with no consideration for his feelings or desires.

The donkey then goes on to describe his dreams of a life of freedom, where he can roam the countryside and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. He imagines himself running through fields of flowers and drinking from clear streams. He longs to be free from the burdens of human society and to live a life of simplicity and joy.

The poem is full of powerful imagery and metaphors that help to convey the donkey's feelings of frustration and longing. For example, when the donkey describes his life as a pack animal, he says that he is "laden with dust and sweat and blood." This vivid description helps to convey the physical toll that his life has taken on him.

The poem also makes use of irony and satire to highlight the absurdity of human society. The donkey is portrayed as a wise and intelligent creature who is capable of deep thought and reflection. He is able to see the flaws in human society and to recognize the hypocrisy of those who claim to be his masters.

One of the most powerful examples of satire in the poem comes when the donkey describes the way that humans treat him. He says that they "beat me when they understand / And when they don't, they beat me too." This ironic statement highlights the cruelty and senselessness of human behavior towards animals.

The poem also has a strong historical context, as it was written during a time when the treatment of animals was a major social issue. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a growing movement for animal rights, with many people calling for an end to the cruel treatment of animals in factories, farms, and other settings.

The Donkey can be seen as a powerful statement in support of this movement, as it highlights the suffering and mistreatment of animals in human society. It also serves as a reminder that animals are not mere machines, but living beings with their own desires and needs.

In conclusion, The Donkey by G.K. Chesterton is a masterpiece of satirical poetry that continues to resonate with readers today. Its powerful imagery, use of irony and satire, and historical context make it a must-read for anyone interested in literature, animal rights, or social justice. So if you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today!

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