Friday, July 28, 2006

On this day in literature . . .

~ 1844 ~ Gerard Manley Hopkins is born in Stratford, Essex

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves -- goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is --
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

- Hopkins, 1880

Hopkins's diction conveys the vigor and spark and spontaneity that is inherent in all of life. The focused conviction expressed here is that it is Christ, the God-revealing Christ, who is behind and in all of this living. The message is that all this life, this kingfisher- and dragonfly-aflame life, this tumbled stone and harp string and bell-sounding life, gets played out in us, in our limbs and eyes, in our feet and speech, in the faces of the men and women we see all day long, every day, in the mirror and on the sidewalk, in classroom and kitchen, in workplaces and on playgrounds, in sanctuaries and committees. The central verb, "play," catches the exhuberance and freedom that mark life when it is lived beyond necessity, beyond mere survival. "Play" also suggests words and sounds and actions that are "played" for another, intentional and meaningful renderings of beauty or truth or goodness. Hopkins incorporates this sense of play with God as the ultimate "other" (". . . to the Father") -- which is to say that all life is, or can be, worship.

- Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places:
A Conversation in Spiritual Theology

6 Comments:

Anonymous Will said...

Hopkins is one of the greatest poets to have ever lived.
I think he was a believer, though a Jesuit (all you Jesuits, forgive me).
Alison has contemplated before doing further study on Hopkins, particularly the relationship between his poetry and music.

10:22 AM  
Blogger RC said...

i love the poem pied beauty by hopkins...i memorized it in college when we could choice any poems (8 lines or more) to memorize.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

3:36 PM  
Blogger Bet said...

And you know I love Hopkins! He has such an exciting way of using the language and creating unusual images. Glory be to God for Dappled Things! :)

5:53 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I agree with Will--read the corpus of Hopkins' work (well, his poetry anyway--that's all I'm familiar with), and it's almost impossible that Hopkins had a deep spiritual vitality and love for Christ.

Hopkins is amazing. Pied Beauty, The Windhover, and God's Grandeur are some of my favorites.

I still can't figure out Sprung Rhythm, though.

7:18 PM  
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