Virginia Barton

25 March 2018: Palm Sunday

25 March 2018
Illustration by Caroline Hopcraft


On such a day as this, Palm Sunday, what else could be so apt as this picture and this poem?


When fishes flew and forests walked
     And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood
    Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
    And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
    Of all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
    Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, 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 about my ears,
    And palms before my feet.


Many of us will have had to learn GK Chesterton’s tear-jerker of a poem, The Donkey, at school in time for Palm Sunday. (It’s the “ears like errant wings” that get me.) Similarly we learned TS Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi in time for Christmas. One doesn’t forget these things.

The volte-face of Palm Sunday, for those of us who know the rest of the story, is acutely painful; until we remember that we would most likely have been hosanna-ing and waving palms with the rest of the crowd, then a day or two later yelling, “Crucify him!”





  • Jack L says on: March 25, 2018 at 12:46 am


    Delighted to have you and your words of wisdom back, Virginia! May you have a blessed Holy Week.

  • Nadine says on: March 25, 2018 at 7:55 am


    Yes, welcome back and thank you for this timely reminder …

    • Ginny says on: March 25, 2018 at 7:02 pm


      Jack and Nadine — thanks for the welcome! As to ‘my wisdom’ it’s usually someone else’s re-hashed I’m afraid. Ginny

  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: March 25, 2018 at 8:09 am


    Good old GK!

    • Ginny says on: March 25, 2018 at 7:03 pm


      Wellies I agree with you, a terrific poem. Wish I’d not only written it but painted the donkey as well! Gin

  • Mary says on: March 25, 2018 at 8:46 am


    I learned The Donkey as a ten year old, Ginny. Sitting here in my 50s I remember every line! And, if push came to shove…Ode to Autumn and The Lady of Shallot.

    Easter is a time of great lurches of sadness and joy I find. Wishing you and your readers more of the joy!

    • Ginny says on: March 25, 2018 at 7:03 pm


      Me too Mary, but not in my case The Donkey. Several psalms though, and Ozymdias and Daffodils.

      As to the lurch between sadness and joy I find contemplation of the Crucifixion almost unbearable – what can it have been like for those who were present? And how can it be possible that such barbarity exists in our own day?

      Somehow we must struggle through the darkness of Holy Week to come to the light of Easter Sunday. Ginny

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