“A Sad and Angry Consolation”: On the Loss of Geoffrey Hill

So – Croker, Macsikker, O’Shem – I ask you what are poems for? They are to console us with their own gift, which is like perfect pitch. Let us commit that to our dust. What ought a poem to be? Answer, a sad and angry consolation. What is the poem? What figures? Say, a sad … More “A Sad and Angry Consolation”: On the Loss of Geoffrey Hill

“Felix Randal” as a Pattern for Remembering Hopkins

In the sonnet, “Felix Randal,” Gerard Manley Hopkins remembers a local Liverpool blacksmith that he had ministered to. Thanks to the work of Alfred Thomas, we even know who inspired this poem. One of Hopkins’s parishioners, A Liverpool farrier by the name of Felix Spence, died after suffering from an illness in 1880. Usually when … More “Felix Randal” as a Pattern for Remembering Hopkins

“I am Happy, so Happy”: Remembering Father Gerard

Today is the anniversary of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s death in 1889. The poet died of typhoid fever while in Ireland. 127 years ago, the “blue-bleak ember” of Fr. Gerard’s life fell and broke and revealed an “immortal diamond.” The following post was originally posted here on June 11th, 2015. I was on a plane holding … More “I am Happy, so Happy”: Remembering Father Gerard

Hopkins’s Final Poem

This Wednesday will mark the 127th 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 … More Hopkins’s Final Poem

In Memoriam

Happy Memorial Day! I thought we would celebrate with Tennyson’s great elegy, In Memoriam. Completed in 1849, the poem follows Tennyson’s grief over the death of his friend, Arthur Hallam, in 1833. Through all 133 cantos of the poem, we share in the speaker’s mourning, but I’ve personally always found Canto 121 to be the most … More In Memoriam