Chesterton’s style is famous for its wealth of paradoxes (seeming impossibilities); something of this can be seen in the first stanza of “The Donkey”. A donkey speaks: the first three stanzas emphasize its strangeness. The last stanza refers to the donkey’s hour of glory when it carried Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. The fish that fly, the forest that walk and the figs that grow upon thorn; all these are, of course, impossible events. The suggestion is that the donkey is an ‘impossible’ (very strange) animal. The moon looks red during eclipses, which are often considered unlucky. Hence the donkey is unlucky and strange.
The head of a donkey looks monstrous and brays a sickening cry and ears like wandering wings. It looks like the devil’s mocking imitation on all four footed animals. It is the tattered outlaw of the earth; rugged and untidy-the donkey often rebels against his masters; donkeys from ancient times have been famous for their stubbornness. Whipped, mocked and without food, he still kept his secret; the memory of his hour. For all those who feel that the donkey is worthless are fools themselves, for once it had a fierce yet a sweet hour when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, crowds cheered and threw palm leaves in his path as a symbol of victory.