Sunday, May 31, 2009

Two Poems by Hopkins

I bid farewell to one of my favorite months on this Pentecost day with two stunning favorites by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

If any writer can get me to feel the rush of Spirit wind, the burning flame of the divine, the miracle of a reversed story-of-Babel  - Babel (and everything it stands for - arrogance, division) now gone and replaced by tongues speaking wonders for all the world to hear - it's Hopkins.  Enjoy.  [Photo:  Verbena by Patty Myrick.]

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man's smudge and share's man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs - 
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

'As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame'

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy 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 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.


Jo said...

I studied GMH for my A Levels (final school exams). At the time, I absolutely hated him; I pushed a lot of the anger that I felt from the way that I was being treated at school (we had a lot of supply teachers due to sickness, and most of them were rubbish!) onto his poetry and on the way that we were being asked to interpret it.

However, every so often, since I finished school, little snatches and phrases would fall into my head, and I've grown to really appreciate his poetry; the lyrics and music that are hidden in the words.

My favourite is the Windhover - the bounce of this is just glorious!

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

Dragonfly said...

Love that poem. (Not just cause its about dragonflies).

T. said...

I LOVE the Windhover! "Gash gold- vermillion" - mmmm, aaaaaah!

Jo said...

It's the first three lines - the bounce of "king-dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon" - that really gets me - the joy of the bird hovering high above you :-)