Courtesy by Hilaire Belloc

image by Linda Richardson

image by Linda Richardson

For January 3rd in my  Anthology from Canterbury PressWaiting on the Word, I have chosen to read Courtesy by Hilaire Belloc. I have chosen it for this run-up towards Epiphany because it is essentially a series of little epiphanies, or ‘showings’; in each of the three pictures themselves pictures of moments of ‘epiphanies’ or ‘showings forth’ of the glory of God in scripture.

You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above was created by Linda Richardson. She writes:

The poem we consider today is about ‘courtesy’, not a word that we attribute easily these days except if we are complaining that someone lacks ‘common courtesy’. As I reflected on this poem I was taken back to my childhood when I was at a convent boarding school. I loved going to the convent chapel and kneeling to pray. I remember thinking how inadequate I was to do this, unlike the professional nuns whose prayers I considered far more powerful than my own mute and rather unhappy attempts.

I have since learned that God will inhabit the tiniest space we make for Him. Even our most feeble turning towards Him will make the angels of heaven hold their breath in excitement. Recently I read the words of a Rabbi who said, when the child of God walks down the road a thousand angels go before her crying, ‘Make way for the image of God!

You can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle

Courtesy   Hilaire Belloc

 

Of Courtesy, it is much less

Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,

Yet in my Walks it seems to me

That the Grace of God is in Courtesy.

 

On Monks I did in Storrington fall,

They took me straight into their Hall;

I saw Three Pictures on a wall,

And Courtesy was in them all.

 

The first the Annunciation;

The second the Visitation;

The third the Consolation,

Of God that was Our Lady’s Son.

 

The first was of St. Gabriel;

On Wings a-flame from Heaven he fell;

And as he went upon one knee

He shone with Heavenly Courtesy.

 

Our Lady out of Nazareth rode –

It was Her month of heavy load;

Yet was her face both great and kind,

For Courtesy was in Her Mind.

 

The third it was our Little Lord,

Whom all the Kings in arms adored;

He was so small you could not see

His large intent of Courtesy.

 

Our Lord, that was Our Lady’s Son,

Go bless you, People, one by one;

My Rhyme is written, my work is done.

5 Comments

Filed under christianity, literature, paintings

5 responses to “Courtesy by Hilaire Belloc

  1. I received a communication from a funeral director just before Christmas. Just a courtesy, the secretary wrote, except that, delightfully, she had written, curtsey. I was charmed. Perhaps the programme that corrects her spelling had suggested this to her. I now imagine her bobbing a curtsey to everyone that she emails. Could this be the beginning of a gentle revolution in manners?
    On Belloc, I remember my father telling me that after he was demobilised from his wartime military service he was working on a farm in Sussex. Hilaire Belloc was a common sight as he made his walks through the countryside. I hope that he was always courteous.

  2. Grant Adams

    Courtesy- Simply put: “Others first”. Great poem!

  3. Margaret Mcelhinny

    Dear Malcolm

    Many thanks for your posts everyday through this Christmas period. Although I read them each day in Waiting on the Word, I do enjoy listening to your reading and the art works. I too have been waiting to receive my copy of Seven Whole Days. I wonder if you could give me Faye Hall’s address so that I can check on this. My very best wishes to you and your family and your dear Mother for every blessing in 2018. Margaret

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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