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.