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.