We had a tough winter here in the Berkshire Hills, tons of snow and only now in May are we enjoying a brief and somewhat damp and cool Spring. Nonetheless, it is beautiful. I heard this poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins on the Writer’s Almanac today. It is one of my (many) favorites of his:
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)
(Backyard photos by R. L. Floyd)
Back in October I posted one of my favorite poems by British poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). Here is another:
To Christ our Lord
I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
British poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) is once again a subject of interest, prompted by the recent full-dress and somewhat controversial biography by Paul Mariani (Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, Viking 2008).
Hopkins is one of my favorites. When I was at Oxford in 1989 there was a display of his original poems and notes for poems at Christchurch College where I was taking a lecture. I loved to go and look at these strange and wondrous scribblings with Hopkins’ own unique pointing and punctuation. Hopkins’ verse often discerns the grandeur of God in the commonplace. Here is one of my (many) favorites:
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundly wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is for me: for that I came.
I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.