Gilbert Keith Chesterton

(29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936 / London, England)

Eternities - Poem by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

I cannot count the pebbles in the brook.
Well hath He spoken: "Swear not by thy head.
Thou knowest not the hairs," though He, we read,
Writes that wild number in His own strange book.

I cannot count the sands or search the seas,
Death cometh, and I leave so much untrod.
Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,
And I will name the leaves upon the trees,

In heaven I shall stand on gold and glass,
Still brooding earth's arithmetic to spell;
Or see the fading of the fires of hell
Ere I have thanked my God for all the grass.


Comments about Eternities by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

  • Anil Kumar Panda (2/11/2017 11:44:00 PM)


    Wonderful poem on how God can do miracle on our lives.Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

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  • Geeta Radhakrishna Menon (2/11/2017 10:28:00 PM)

    Eternities
    For God, who is the eternal Father of this vast universe, counting the pebbles of
    His creation is but a playful dance. But man is just a minute pebble in the vast ocean
    of life and has to put on a great amount of effort just to count his deeds one by one.
    Chesterton has most beautifully written these verses affirming the magnanimity of the universe
    and God as the greatest Mathematician who reigns powerfully unto eternity.
    (Report) Reply

  • Terry Craddock (2/11/2017 9:36:00 PM)


    'I cannot count the pebbles in the brook'

    the vast and small meet in these statements, we cannot count the pebbles in the brook and yet by removing one pebble from the brook changes the brook by an infinitesimal amount, the brook is not the same brook by a microscoptic margin when we take into consideration the vastness of the whole brook on this scale. to the human eye the brook is exactly the same.
    The poem addresses the questions of scale, God can count every peeble in a brook, all the sands in the sea, every hair on every human head and add the sum to the total of all hairs on every head, the weight, the total length of all hairs, ajusted every second a human being is born or dies and always know the exact answer that no human or computer can. Not a sparrow dies without God knowing, meaning nothing is born lives or dies without God knowing.
    Essentially the Christian answer is God knew every human soul that would be born from the moment of creation, Jesus died for every sin commited by any person that had been born into the world before him, and that would be born in the world after his death and ressurrection for their sins, if they accepted this blood sacrifice of the lamb.
    Gilbert Keith Chesterton is addressing these vast mathmatical facts, 'the earth's arithmetic to spell' and we can be sure of this by the way he moves from pebbles and sand on earth to the gold Christians are promised they will stand on in heaven, the sands of the sea on earth to the sea of glass in heaven.
    Gilbert proclaims his belief in heaven in the last stanza and a judgement in the final two lines; he will be in heaven or see 'the fading of the fires of hell' after the final judgement, the second death; because fires do not burn for eternity, the eternal fires of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah burned only a day or so, but the judgement is final and will stand for eternity.
    The poem is a personal interaction, Gilbert is not preaching, the references would not be meaningless to readers without Biblical knowledge, but ultimately Gilbert is thanking God for the beauty of nature, 'leaves upon the trees, ' and 'all the grass'. The title of the poem 'Eternities' and the reference 'though He, (meaning God) we read, Writes that wild number in His own strange book' implies Gilbert believes in the purpose and ultimate power of God over an eternity of time.
    This is a poem written as a reflection of faith and as a personal comparasion between a mortal limited individual and an all powerful God, the personal interaction of a believer with his creator God. An intriguing element of the final stanza is Gilbert 'Still brooding earth's arithmetic to spell' implying Gilbert, is still brooding upon many problems associated with life on earth. Gilbert like many believers seems to have many unresolved questions he would like to ask God to answer, waiting to be answered in his future in heaven, will be more questions like 'the fading of the fires of hell' and Gilbert's appreciation of the beauty he perceived on earth starting with the wonder of all the grass.' This is a poem simple on the surface yet revealing deep thought behind the simple words.
    (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (2/11/2017 9:32:00 PM)

    I have thanked my God
    Superb poem..... thanks fir sharing.... (Report) Reply

  • Denis Mair (2/11/2017 6:12:00 PM)


    We are the eyes of the world, trying to see as much of infinite creation as we can. Consciousness entails responsibility, and he is trying as best he knows to be worthy of this gift. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (2/11/2017 3:04:00 PM)


    Only God knows when each sparrow falls- Only God knows the number of hairs on our head. Beautiful poem of faith. (Report) Reply

  • (2/11/2017 10:55:00 AM)


    A great poem in an endeavor to count the countless and futility in it for the mortals with limited life span. (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (2/11/2017 4:55:00 AM)

    tom allport
    a profound poem about the poets belief in God and the next life. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (2/11/2017 3:11:00 AM)

    So much
    Boundless! ! Facing the ways of life. Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • Indira Renganathan (2/11/2017 2:10:00 AM)


    Immortality is essential to measure the boundless Eternity...is it possible? .only He knows...but being thankful to Him for everything we are given is greater than all- -10++++ (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: heaven, god, death, fire, thanks, tree



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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