i like poetry

Not that that is a surprise to readers of my blog.  This week, I found the following from Gerard Manley Hopkins (whom, if you haven’t noticed, I also like):

My own heart let me 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; unforeseentimes rather — as skies
Betweenpie mountains — lights a lovely mile.

It takes a few readings to get the sense of it, but it does open up with reading.  I love Hopkins’ use of words and repetition of sounds: “this tormented mind / With this tormented mind tormenting yet.”  His coining of words always delights me: “unforeseentimes,” “betweenpie”.  I also love the persuasive tone he takes toward his soul, as though wheedling a stubborn child away from something; he is good-humored about it, but seems to pity his soul’s stupidness.  Certainly, he is being kind to himself.  And what he says is true. 

It also reminds of a passage from one of my other favorites, T. S. Eliot, in the first section of  “Ash Wednesday”:

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And I pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain.

I think it is tendency of literary people — and probably others — to “too much discuss” things with themselves, “[casting] for comfort” in their comfortless minds, when, surely, it is best “to call off thoughts awhile / Elsewhere.”

And the place to which Hopkins calls thoughts is that Source of the mercy for which Eliot prays, the God “whose smile … unforeseentimes … lights a lovely mile.”  To quote one more poet:

Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things;
And consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.
Psalm 107:43


One thought on “i like poetry

  1. Derrick says:

    I happy when I have nothing to say,
    Happier when I have nothing to say and beauty to see,
    And happiest when I have said the one small thing which was the right thing to say and have no more to say but to look upwards and see that all is right and good.

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