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Selected Poems (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Published onAug 26, 2007
Selected Poems (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Selected Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins

“As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
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 Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
Chríst—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.


“Binsey Poplars

          felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
   Of a fresh and following folded rank
               Not spared, not one
               That dandled a sandalled
          Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding

O if we but knew what we do
      When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
      Since country is so tender
To touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
          To mend her we end her,
      When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
   Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
      Strokes of havoc únselve
          The sweet especial scene,
      Rural scene, a rural scene,
      Sweet especial rural scene.


“Caged Skylark”

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
   Man's mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house,
   That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life's age.

Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
   Both sing sometimes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
   Yet both droop deadly sometimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest—
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
   But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man's spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
   For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.


“(Carrion Comfort)”

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against
     me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to
     avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear. Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod, Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer. Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.


“Duns Scotus's Oxford”

Towerly city and branchy between towers;
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-
     racked, river-rounded;
The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country and
     town did
Once encounter in, here coped and poisèd powers;

Thou hast a base and brickish skirt there, sours
That neighbour-nature thy grey beauty is grounded
Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded
Rural rural keeping—folk, flocks, and flowers.

Yet ah! this air I gather and I release
He lived on; these weeds and waters, these walls are what
He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace;

Of realty the rarest-veinèd unraveller; a not
Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece;
Who fired France for Mary without spot.


“God's Grandeur”

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
   It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
   It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
   And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with
   And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell:
     the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
   There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
   Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
   World broods with warm breast and with ah!
     bright wings.


“Hurrahing in Harvest”

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the
     stooks rise
   Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely
   Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
   Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our
   And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love's greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding
   Majestic—as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!—
These things, these things were here and but the
   Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
   And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off
     under his feet.


“I Wake and Feel of Dark, Not Day”

I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light's delay.
     With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God's most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
     Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.


“No Worst, There Is None”

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing—
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked 'No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief'.

   O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.


“Pied Beauty”

Glory be to God for dappled things—
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim:
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and
     And àll tràdes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                  Praise him.




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


“The Starlight Night”

Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
   O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
   The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
Down in dim woods the diamond delves! the elves'-eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold lies!
   Wind-beat whitebeam! airy abeles set on a flare!
   Flake-doves sent floating forth at a farmyard scare!—
Ah well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.

Buy then! bid then!—What?—Prayer, patience, alms,
Look, look: a May-mess, like on orchard boughs!
   Look! March-bloom, like on mealed-with-yellow
These are indeed the barn; withindoors house
The shocks. This piece-bright paling shuts the spouse
   Christ home, Christ and his mother and all his hallows.


“That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection”

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth, then
     chevy on an air-
built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs | they throng;
     they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, | wherever an elm
Shivelights and shadowtackle in long | lashes lace, lance, and pair.
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous | ropes, wrestles, beats
   earth bare
Of yestertempest's creases; in pool and rut peel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crust, dust; stanches,
Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there
Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, | nature's bonfire burns on.
But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Man, how fast his firedint, | his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
Drowned. O pity and indig | nation! Manshape, that shone
Sheer off, disseveral, a star, | death blots black out; nor mark
          Is any of him at all so stark
But vastness blurs and time | beats level. Enough! the Resur-
A heart's-clarion! Away grief's gasping, | joyless days, dejection.
          Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; | world's wildfire, leave but ash:
          In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal
          Is immortal diamond.


“Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”

Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum: verum- tamen justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prospera- tur? &c.

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners' ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?

   Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build—but not I build; no, but strain,
Time's eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

 “The Windhover: To Christ our Lord”

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
     dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Fal-
          con, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstacy! then off, off forth on swing,
     As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend:
          the hurl and gliding
     Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

     No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
   Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.


“The Wreck of the Deutschland”

          To the
happy memory of five Franciscan Nuns
   exiles by the Falk Laws
drowned between midnight and morning of
     Dec. 7th. 1875


               Thou mastering me
          God! giver of breath and bread;
     World's strand, sway of the sea;
          Lord of living and dead;
   Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
   And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
     Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.

               I did say yes
          O at lightning and lashed rod;
     Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
          Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
   Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night:
   The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
     Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.

               The frown of his face
          Before me, the hurtle of hell
     Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
          I whirled out wings that spell
   And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
   My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
     Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace
     to the grace.

               I am soft sift
          In an hourglass—at the wall
     Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
          And it crowds and it combs to the fall;
   I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
   But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall
     Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ's gift.

               I kiss my hand
          To the stars, lovely-asunder
     Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
          Glow, glory in thunder;
   Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
   Since, tho' he is under the world's splendour and wonder,
     His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.

               Not out of his bliss
          Springs the stress felt
     Nor first from heaven (and few know this)
          Swings the stroke dealt—
   Stroke and a stress that stars and storms deliver,
   That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by and melt—
     But it rides time like riding a river
(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable and miss),

               It dates from day
          Of his going in Galilee;
     Warm-laid grave of a womb-life grey;
          Manger, maiden's knee;
   The dense and the driven Passion, and frightful sweat;
   Thence the discharge of it, there its swelling to be,
     Though felt before, though in high flood yet—
What none would have known of it, only the heart, being hard at bay,

               Is out with it! Oh,
          We lash with the best or worst
     Word last! How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe
          Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,
   Gush!—flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet,
   Brim, in a flash, full!—Hither then, last or first,
     To hero of Calvary, Christ,'s feet—
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it—men go.

               Be adored among men,
          God, three-numberèd form;
     Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
          Man's malice, with wrecking and storm.
   Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
   Thou art lightning and love, I found it, a winter and warm;
    Father and fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.

               With an anvil-ding
          And with fire in him forge thy will
     Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring
          Through him, melt him but master him still:
   Whether at once, as once at a crash Paul,
   Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
     Make mércy in all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King.


               'Some find me a sword; some
          The flange and the rail; flame,
     Fang, or flood' goes Death on drum,
          And storms bugle his fame.
   But wé dream we are rooted in earth—Dust!
   Flesh falls within sight of us, we, though our flower the same,
     Wave with the meadow, forget that there must
The sour scythe cringe, and the blear share come.

               On Saturday sailed from Bremen,
     Take settler and seamen, tell men with women,
          Two hundred souls in the round—
   O Father, not under thy feathers nor ever as guessing
   The goal was a shoal, of a fourth the doom to be drowned;
     Yet did the dark side of the bay of thy blessing
Not vault them, the million of rounds of thy mercy not reeve
     even them in?

               Into the snows she sweeps,
          Hurling the haven behind,
     The Deutschland, on Sunday; and so the sky keeps,
          For the infinite air is unkind,
   And the sea flint-flake, black-backed in the regular blow,
   Sitting Eastnortheast, in cursed quarter, the wind;
     Wiry and white-fiery and whirlwind-swivellèd snow
Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps.

               She drove in the dark to leeward,
          She struck—not a reef or a rock
     But the combs of a smother of sand: night drew her
          Dead to the Kentish Knock;
   And she beat the bank down with her bows and the ride of
     her keel:
   The breakers rolled on her beam with ruinous shock;
     And canvas and compass, the whorl and the wheel
Idle for ever to waft her or wind her with, these she endured.

               Hope had grown grey hairs,
          Hope had mourning on,
     Trenched with tears, carved with cares,
          Hope was twelve hours gone;
   And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day
   Nor rescue, only rocket and lightship, shone,
     And lives at last were washing away:
To the shrouds they took,—they shook in the hurling and
     horrible airs.

               One stirred from the rigging to save
          The wild woman-kind below,
     With a rope's end round the man, handy and brave—
          He was pitched to his death at a blow,
   For all his dreadnought breast and braids of thew:
   They could tell him for hours, dandled the to and fro
     Through the cobbled foam-fleece, what could he do
With the burl of the fountains of air, buck and the flood of the wave?

               They fought with God's cold—
          And they could not and fell to the deck
     (Crushed them) or water (and drowned them) or rolled
          With the sea-romp over the wreck.
   Night roared, with the heart-break hearing a heart-broke rabble,
   The woman's wailing, the crying of child without check—
     Till a lioness arose breasting the babble,
A prophetess towered in the tumult, a virginal tongue told.

               Ah, touched in your bower of bone
          Are you! turned for an exquisite smart,
     Have you! make words break from me here all alone,
          Do you!—mother of being in me, heart.
   O unteachably after evil, but uttering truth,
   Why, tears! is it? tears; such a melting, a madrigal start!
     Never-eldering revel and river of youth,
What can it be, this glee? the good you have there of your own?

               Sister, a sister calling
          A master, her master and mine!—
     And the inboard seas run swirling and bawling;
          The rash smart sloggering brine
   Blinds her; but she that weather sees one thing, one;
   Has one fetch in her: she rears herself to divine
     Ears, and the call of the tall nun
To the men in the tops and the tackle rode over the storm's brawling.

               She was first of a five and came
          Of a coifèd sisterhood.
     (O Deutschland, double a desperate name!
          O world wide of its good!
   But Gertrude, lily, and Luther, are two of a town,
   Christ's lily and beast of the waste wood:
     From life's dawn it is drawn down,
Abel is Cain's brother and breasts they have sucked the same.)

               Loathed for a love men knew in them,
          Banned by the land of their birth,
     Rhine refused them. Thames would ruin them;
          Surf, snow, river and earth
   Gnashed: but thou art above, thou Orion of light;
   Thy unchancelling poising palms were weighing the worth,
     Thou martyr-master: in thy sight
Storm flakes were scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers—sweet
     heaven was astrew in them.

               Five! the finding and sake
          And cipher of suffering Christ.
     Mark, the mark is of man's make
          And the word of it Sacrificed.
   But he scores it in scarlet himself on his own bespoken,
   Before-time-taken, dearest prizèd and priced—
     Stigma, signal, cinquefoil token
For lettering of the lamb's fleece, ruddying of the rose-flake.

               Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
          Drawn to the Life that died;
     With the gnarls of the nails in thee, niche of the lance, his
          Lovescape crucified
   And seal of his seraph-arrival! and these thy daughters
   And five-livèd and leavèd favour and pride,
     Are sisterly sealed in wild waters,
To bathe in his fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances.

               Away in the loveable west,
          On a pastoral forehead of Wales,
     I was under a roof here, I was at rest,
          And they the prey of the gales;
   She to the black-about air, to the breaker, the thickly
   Falling flakes, to the throng that catches and quails,
     Was calling 'O Christ, Christ come quickly':
The cross to her she calls Christ to her, christens her wild-worn Best.

               The majesty! what did she mean?
          Breathe, arch and original Breath.
     Is it love in her of the being as her lover had been?
          Breathe, body of lovely Death.
   They were else-minded then, altogether, the men
   Woke thee with a we are perishlng in the weather of Gennesareth.
     Or is it that she cried for the crown then,
The keener to come at the comfort for feeling the combating keen?

               For how to the heart's cheering
          The down-dogged ground-hugged grey
     Hovers off, the jay-blue heavens appearing
          Of pied and peeled May!
   Blue-beating and hoary-glow height; or night, still higher,
   With belled fire and the moth-soft Milky Way,
     What by your measure is the heaven of desire,
The treasure never eyesight got, nor was ever guessed what for
     the hearing?

               No, but it was not these.
          The jading and jar of the cart,
     Time's tasking, it is fathers that asking for ease
          Of the sodden-with-its-sorrowing heart,
   Not danger, electrical horror; then further it finds
   The appealing of the Passion is tenderer in prayer apart:
     Other, I gather, in measure her mind's
Burden, in wind's burly and beat of endragonèd seas.

               But how shall I … make me room there;
          Reach me a … Fancy, come faster—
     Strike you the sight of it? look at it loom there,
          Thing that she … there then! the Master,
   Ipse, the only one, Christ, King, Head:
   He was to cure the extremity where he had cast her;
     Do, deal, lord it with living and dead;
Let him ride, her pride, in his triumph, despatch and have done
     with his doom there.

               Ah! there was a heart right!
          There was single eye!
     Read the unshapeable shock night
          And knew the who and the why;
   Wording it how but by him that present and past,
   Heaven and earth are word of, worded by?—
     The Simon Peter of a soul! to the blast
Tarpeian-fast, but a blown beacon of light.

               Jesu, heart's light,
          Jesu, maid's son,
     What was the feast followed the night
          Thou hadst glory of this nun?
   Feast of the one woman without stain.
   For so conceived, so to conceive thee is done;
     But here was heart-throe, birth of a brain,
Word, that heard and kept thee and uttered thee outright.

               Well, she has thee for the pain, for the
          Patience; but pity of the rest of them!
     Heart, go and bleed at a bitterer vein for the
          Comfortless unconfessed of them—
   No not uncomforted: lovely-felicitous Providence
   Finger of a tender of, O of a feathery delicacy, the breast of the
     Maiden could obey so, be a bell to, ring of it, and
Startle the poor sheep back! is the shipwrack then a harvest; does
     tempest carry the grain for thee?

               I admire thce, master of the tides,
          Of the Yore-flood, of the year's fall;
     The recurb and the recovery of the gulfs sides,
          The girth of it and the wharf of it and the wall;
   Stanching, quenching ocean of a motionable mind;
   Ground of being, and granite of it: past all
     Grasp God, throned behind
Death with a sovereignty that heeds but hides, bodes but abides;

               With a mercy that outrides
          The all of water, an ark
     For the listener; for the lingerer with a love glides
          Lower than death and the dark;
   A vein for the visiting of the past-prayer, pent in prison,
   The-last-breath penitent spirits—the uttermost mark
     Our passion-plungèd giant risen,
The Christ of the Father compassionate, fetched in the storm of
     his strides.

               Now burn, new born to the world,
          Doubled-naturèd name,
     The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
   Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!
   Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;
     Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fire

               Dame, at our door
          Drowned, and among our shoals,
     Remember us in the roads, the heaven-haven of the
          Our King back, oh, upon English souls!
   Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us,
     be a crimson-cresseted east,
   More brightening her, rare-dear Britain, as his reign rolls,
     Pride, rose, prince, hero of us, high-priest,
Our hearts' charity's hearth's fire, our thoughts' chivalry's throng's



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