I am not mad keen on Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poetry in general, but I was fascinated by Blake Bailey’s 12 December review of a new book about him in The New York Times. I do have a Penguin paperback edition of Hopkins’s poems and letters, from a course I took in college, and I’m going to have to dig it out after reading this:
…his death at 44 in 1889 must have been a positive comfort (“I am so happy” were the poet’s dying words), all the more so in the wake of his last, cathartic “terrible sonnets,” including his heartbreaking “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”:
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavor end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? . . .
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
One thought on “and yet more harping on sonnets”
I’m fond of this one:
My own heart let me have more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst ’s all-in-all in all a world of wet.
Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
’s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.
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