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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring


(A Lilac Year, woodcut by Gustav Baumann, 1881-1971,
German-born American painter)

“Hopkins would never settle for being a dreamy little nature poet, a devotee of the pretty, and therefore a pretender of love. For how can you love weeds and thrush’s eggs and not love man? If God delights in the making of chestnuts, the more does he delight in making beings who can delight also in his making of chestnuts and everything else. Therefore, man, his labor and his ingenuity, must also be praised; for the quirky beauty of man’s own creativity, as evinced in sickles and ice-tongs and flails and adzes, reflects its source, the beauty of God.”

~ Anthony Esolen, from his book
Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature

SPRING

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, S. J. (1844-1899), British poet whose work has had a profound influence on modern poetry

2 comments:

dylan said...

Today is a Hopkins day! One of my other much-frequented blogs posted "God's Grandeur."

About the prosody of this poem "Spring," I think it's significant that both the octave and the sestet begin with a stressed syllable. The initial unstress of the customary iamb is dispensed with. This variation gives the line an emphatic, let's-jump-right-in sound! (Edward Estlin Cummings, that exquisitely skillful metrician, did the same thing in "nothing false and possible is love".)

The old gentleman... said...

Anthony Esolen is excellent. See his commentaries in Magnificat, the Dominican liturgical publication.

I'll be on the lookout for the book you've cited. We need more on mirth, merriment, and--as Dorothy Day put it--the duty of delight.