Now I Am Minded to Take Pipe in Hand


How to celebrate Thanksgiving on the Golden Echo? At first, I thought we would of course read George Herbert’s “The Thanksgiving.” That sounds fitting, but it didn’t seem quite right.

Then I thought we could listen to Thomas Hoccleve together since November is an important month for the clerkish poet who regained his sanity on the first. But that too didn’t seem quite right.

Then I thought, “why not take a look at a Hopkins poem that fits the season.” Perhaps “God’s Grandeur” since Robert Pinsky suggested we read it this day. That is a fitting poem for such a downtrodden time, but it evokes springtime for me, like much of his poetry.

So, how about this poem for our post-meal rest?

Now I am minded to take pipe in hand
And yield a song to the decaying year;
Now while the full-leaved hursts unalter’d stand,
And scarcely does appear
The Autumn yellow feather in the boughs;
While there is neither sun nor rain;
And a grey heaven does the hush’d earth house,
And bluer grey the flocks of trees look in the plain.

So late the hoar green chestnut breaks a bud,
And feeds new leaves upon the winds of Fall;
So late there is no force in sap or blood;
The fruit against the wall
Loose on the stem has done its summering;
These should have starv’d with the green broods of spring
Or never been at all;
Too late or else much, much too soon,
Who first knew the moonlight by the hunters’ moon.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, July 1866
GMH doing his best Keats impression

Does anyone else have a hard time picturing Gerard Manley Hopkins smoking?

This poem is from his 1864 diary. That means he would be twenty, so two years younger than this painting to the right. At that time, he is still studying at Balliol College with his friend, and future poet laureate, Robert Bridges.

The hunter’s moon may be the third week of October and this poem may be near an illustration dated for September, but this far south, we are just now getting weather like that.

Happy Thanksgiving from us and Eleanor and even Br. Monday!




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