Today is the anniversary of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s death in 1889. The poet died of typhoid fever (or perhaps Crohn’s disease) while in Ireland. 129 years ago, the “blue-bleak ember” of Fr. Gerard’s life fell and broke and revealed an “immortal diamond,” and we’re still writing and thinking about him–and most importantly still reading his … More The Transitus of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Tomorrow will mark the 129th year after Gerard Manley Hopkins’s death. His final poem, “To R.B.” was written in the last few months of his life and sent to his friend, the Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges. Taking up Horace’s pregnancy metaphor of a poet holding a poem back for nine years, Hopkins’s final apology is a … More The “Immortal Song” of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Throughout his short life, Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote occasional poems. Some were late apologies for missing a sister’s birthday. Others were designed to be presented to his Jesuit community, such as a playful description of a superior. And many were written to commemorate the liturgical season. During the Lent of 1866, he wrote the poem, … More Beginning Lent with Father Gerard’s “Nondum”
The holiest attribute of a temple is that it is a place where men weep in common. A Miserere sung in common by a multitude flailed by destiny is worth a whole philosophy. To cure the plague is not enough, it must also be lamented with bitter tears. Yes, we must learn to weep! Perhaps … More A Miserere Sung in Common
Ever think about all the art that has been lost? Beowulf comes out of an oral tradition of scops singing from a trove of texts. We have this manuscript, which fortunately survived the fitting-yet-sad fire at Ashburnham House, but what about all the other poems? Or what about all the ephemeral moments when a scop arranged … More Kept with Fonder a Care
Why do we enjoy tragedies? Why is there something almost pleasant about an elegy. We watch King Lear, knowing that the moment will come when he carries Cordelia out. We watch Macbeth to hear “Out, out, brief candle!” I’ve noticed that I enjoy Old English poetry and the works of Thomas Hardy because they enter … More Why Do We Enjoy Suffering in Literature?
Easter Communion Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast: God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips. You striped in secret with breath-taking whips, Those crookèd rough-scored chequers may be pieced To crosses meant for Jesu’s; you whom the East With drafth of thin and pursuant cold so nips Breath Easter now; you sergèd fellowships, […]