Mortal Beauty, God's Grace: Major Poems and Spiritual Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkinsby Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of English poetry's most brilliant stylistic innovators, and one of the most distinguished poets of any age. However, during his lifetime he was known not as a poet but as a Jesuit priest, and his faith was essential to his work. His writings combine an intense feeling for nature with an ecstatic awareness of its divine origins, most… See more details below
Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of English poetry's most brilliant stylistic innovators, and one of the most distinguished poets of any age. However, during his lifetime he was known not as a poet but as a Jesuit priest, and his faith was essential to his work. His writings combine an intense feeling for nature with an ecstatic awareness of its divine origins, most remarkably expressed in his magnificent and highly original 'sprung rhythm.'
This collection contains not only all of Hopkins’ significant poetry, but also selections from his journals, sermons, and letters, all chosen for their spiritual guidance and insight. Hopkins didn't allow the publication of most of his poems during his lifetime, so his genius was not appreciated until after his death. Now, more than a hundred years later, his words are still a source of inspiration and sheer infectious joy in the radiance of God's creation.
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Read an Excerpt
(a nun takes the veil)
I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.
THE HABITAT OF PERFECTION
Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.
Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb:
It is the shut, the curfew sent
From there where all surrenders come
Which only makes you eloquent.
Be shellèd, eyes, with double dark
And find the uncreated light:
This ruck and reel which you remark
Coils, keeps, and teases simple sight.
Palate, the hutch of tasty lust,
Desire not to be rinsed with wine:
The can must be so sweet, the crust
So fresh that come in fasts divine!
Nostrils, your careless breath that spend
Upon the stir and keep of pride,
What relish shall the censers send
Along the sanctuary side!
O feel-of-primrose hands, O feet
That want the yield of plushy sward,
But you shall walk the golden street
And you unhouse and house the Lord.
And, Poverty, be thou the bride
And now the marriage feast begun,
And lily-coloured clothes provide
Your spouse not laboured-at nor spun.
"Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself."
God, though to Thee our psalm we raise
No answering voice comes from the skies;
To Thee the trembling sinner prays
But no forgiving voice replies;
Our prayer seems lost in desert ways,
Our hymn in the vast silence dies.
We see the glories of the earth
But not the hand that wrought them all:
Night to a myriad worlds gives birth,
Yet like a lighted empty hall
Where stands no host at door or hearth
Vacant creation's lamps appal.
We guess; we clothe Thee, unseen King,
With attributes we deem are meet;
Each in his own imagining
Sets up a shadow in Thy seat;
Yet know not how our gifts to bring,
Where seek Thee with unsandalled feet.
And still th'unbroken silence broods
While ages and while aeons run,
As erst upon chaotic floods
The Spirit hovered ere the sun
Had called the seasons' changeful moods
And life's first germs from death had won.
And still th'abysses infinite
Surround the peak from which we gaze.
Deep calls to deep, and blackest night
Giddies the soul with blinding daze
That dares to cast its searching sight
On being's dread and vacant maze.
And Thou art silent, whilst Thy world
Contends about its many creeds
And hosts confront with flags unfurled
And zeal is flushed and pity bleeds
And truth is heard, with tears impearled,
A moaning voice among the reeds.
My hand upon my lips I lay;
The breast's desponding sob I quell;
I move along life's tomb-decked way
And listen to the passing bell
Summoning men from speechless day
To death's more silent, darker spell.
Oh! till Thou givest that sense beyond,
To shew Thee that Thou art, and near,
Let patience with her chastening wand
Dispel the doubt and dry the tear;
And lead me child-like by the hand
If still in darkness not in fear.
Speak! whisper to my watching heart
One word-as when a mother speaks
Soft, when she sees her infant start,
Till dimpled joy steals o'er its cheeks.
Then, to behold Thee as Thou art,
I'll wait till morn eternal breaks.
ORATIO PATRIS CONDREN: O JESU VIVENS IN MARIA
Jesu that dost in Mary dwell,
Be in thy servants' hearts as well,
In the spirit of thy holiness,
In the fulness of thy force and stress,
In the very ways that thy life goes
And virtues that thy pattern shows,
In the sharing of thy mysteries;
And every power in us that is
Against thy power put under feet
In the Holy Ghost the Paraclete
To the glory of the Father. Amen.
S. THOMAE AQUINATIS
Rhythmus ad SS. Sacramentum
"Adoro te supplex, latens deitas"
Godhead, I adore thee fast in hiding; thou
God in these bare shapes, poor shadows, darkling now:
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed:
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.
On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men;
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.
I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he:
This faith each day deeper be my holding of,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.
O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.
Like what tender tales tell of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran-
Blood that but one drop of has the worth to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
Jesu whom I look at veilèd here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory's sight.
THE WRECK OF THE DEUTSCHLAND
Dec. 6, 7, 1875
to the happy memory of five Franciscan nuns,
exiles by the Falck Laws, drowned between midnight and morning of December 7.
Part the first
Thou mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World's strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
And after it álmost únmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find theé.
I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.
The frown of his face
Before me, the hurtle of hell
Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
I whirled out wings that spell
And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.
I am sóft sift
In an hourglass-at the wall
Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
And it crowds and it combs to the fall;
I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall
Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ's gift.
I kiss my hand
To the stars, lovely-asunder
Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
Glow, glory in thunder;
Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
Since, though he is under the world's splendour and wonder,
His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.
Not out of his bliss
Springs the stress felt
Nor first from heaven (and few know this)
Swings the stroke dealt-
Stroke and a stress that stars and storms deliver,
That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by and melt-
But it rides time like riding a river
(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable and miss.)
It dates from day
Of his going in Galilee;
Warm-laid grave of a womb-life grey;
Manger, maiden's knee;
The dense and the driven Passion, and frightful sweat;
Thence the discharge of it, there its swelling to be,
Though felt before, though in high flood yet-
What none would have known of it, only the heart, being hard at bay,
Is out with it! Oh,
We lash with the best or worst
Word last! How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe
Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,
Gush!-flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet,
Brim, in a flash, full!-Hither then, last or first,
To hero of Calvary, Christ's, feet-
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it-men go.
Be adored among men,
God, three-numberèd form;
Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
Man's malice, with wrecking and storm.
Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
Thou art lightning and love, I found it, a winter and warm;
Father and fondler of heart thou hast wrung;
Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.
With an anvil-ding
And with fire in him forge thy will
Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring
Through him, melt him but master hi still:
Whether át ónce, as once at a crash Paul,
Or as Austin,5 a lingering-out sweet skill,
Make mercy in all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King.
Part the second
"Some find me a sword; some
The flange and the rail; flame,
Fang, or flood" goes Death on drum,
And storms bugle his fame.
But wé dréam we are rooted in earth-Dust!
Flesh falls within sight of us: we, though our flower the same,
Wave with the meadow, forget that there must
The sour scythe cringe, and the blear share come.
On Saturday sailed from Bremen,
Take settler and seamen, tell men with women,
Two hundred souls in the round-
O Father, not under thy feathers nor ever as guessing
The goal was a shoal, of a fourth the doom to be drowned;
Yet díd the dark side of the bay of thy blessing
Not vault them, the million of rounds of thy mercy not reeve even them in?
Into the snows she sweeps,
Hurling the Haven behind,
The Deutschland, on Sunday; and so the sky keeps,
For the infinite air is unkind,
And the sea flint-flake, black-backed in the regular blow,
Sitting Eastnortheast, in cursed quarter, the wind
Wiry and white-fiery and whírlwind-swivellèd snow
Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps.
She drove in the dark to leeward,
She struck-not a reef or a rock
But the combs of a smother of sand: night drew her
Dead to the Kentish Knock;
And she beat the bank down with her bows and the ride of her keel;
The breakers rolled on her beam with ruinous shock;
And canvass and compass, the whorl and the wheel
Idle for ever to waft her or wind her with, these she endured.
Hope had grown grey hairs,
Hope had mourning on
Trenched with tears, carved with cares,
Hope was twelve hours gone;
And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day
Nor rescue, only rocket and lightship, shone,
And lives at last were washing away:
To the shrouds they took,-they shook in the hurling and horrible airs.
One stirred from the rigging to save
The wild woman-kind below,
With a rope's end round theman, handy and brave-
He was pitched to his death at a blow,
For all his dreadnought breast and braids of thew:
They could tell him for hours, dandled the to and fro
Through the cobbled foam-fleece. What could he do
With the burl of the fountains of air, buck and the flood of the wave?
They fought with God's cold-
And they could not and fell to the deck
(Crushed them) or water (and drowned them) or rolled
With the sea-romp over the wreck.
Night roared, with the heart-break hearing a heart-broke rabble,
The woman wailing, the crying of child without check-
Till a lioness arose breasting the babble,
A prophetess towered in the tumult, a virginal tongue told.
Ah, touched in your bower of bone
Are you! turned for an exquisite smart,
Have you! make words break from me here all alone,
Do you!-mother of being in me, heart.
O unteachably after evil, but uttering truth,
Why, tears! is it? tears; such a melting, a madrigal start!
Never-eldering revel and river of youth,
What can it be, this glee? the good you have there of your own?
Sister, a sister calling
A master, her master and mine!-
And the inboard seas run swirling and hawling;
The rash smart sloggering brine
Blinds her; but shé that weather sees óne thing, one;
Has óne fetch ín her: she rears herself to divine
Ears, and the call of the tall nun
To the men in the tops and the tackle rode over the storm's brawling.
She was first of a five and came of a coifèd sisterhood.
(O Deutschland, double a desperate name!
O world wide of its good!
But Gertrude, lily, and Luther, are two of a town,
Christ's lily and beast of the waste wood:
From life's dawn it is drawn down,
Abel is Cain's brother and breasts they have sucked the same.)
Loathed for a love men knew in them,
Banned by the land of their birth,
Rhine refused them, Thames would ruin them;
Surf, snow, river and earth
Gnashed: but thou art above, thou Orion of light;
Thy unchancelling poising palms were weighing the worth,
Thou martyr-master: in thy´ sight
Storm flakes were scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers-sweet heaven was astrew in them.
Five! the finding and sake
And cipher of suffering Christ.
Mark, the mark is of man's make
And the word of it Sacrificed.
But he scores it in scarlet himself on his own bespoken,
Before-time-taken, dearest prizèd and priced-
Stigma, signal, cinquefoil token
For lettering of the lamb's fleece, ruddying of the rose-flake.
Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
Drawn to the Life that died;
With the gnarls of the nails in thee, niche of the lance, his
And seal of his seraph-arrival! and these thy daughters
And five-livèd and leavèd favour and pride,
Are sisterly sealed in wild waters,
To bathe in his fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances.
Away in the loveable west,
On a pastoral forehead of Wales,
I was under a roof here, I was at rest,
And they the prey of the gales;
She to the black-about air, to the breaker, the thickly
Falling flakes, to the throng that catches and quails
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