“Spring” (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Like me, Webster is partial to Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th century poet who also was a Catholic convert and a Jesuit. (Depicted here bronze by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillsepie).  Webster has cited Hopkins’s poems  here, here and here.

Poems are meant to be read out loud; this is especially true for Hopkins’s. He used “sprung rhythm,” which is intended to sound like natural speech. (Unlike most poets who use free verse, however, Hopkins made sure the number of feet per line of poetry was kept consistent within a single poem.)

At a funeral I attended Saturday, the celebrant, Msgr. John Mraz, mentioned Hopkins. The deceased, Donald Patton Buckelew, like Hopkins, not only encountered Christ in the Mass, but also in his fellow human beings and in the natural world. What a gift.

NOTHING is so beautiful as spring—
  When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
  Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
  The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
 A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning


In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
  Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
  Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.


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