Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hopkins' "Easter Communion"

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 crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu's; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,

God shall o'er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

This is one of Gerard Manley Hopkins' lesser-known poems but perfect for Easter Day. One of my favourite poets and most in-built poetic influences - encountered young; forever present - Hopkins whirls from word to word, almost delirious at times, careless of convention, his alliterative criss-crossing of sounds deeply Anglo-Saxon, seemingly lost in religious ecstasy yet never out of control, leaving the faithful reader breathless and dizzy.

For further reading, his most beautiful and achieved poem is "The Wreck of the Deutschland".

Happy Easter/Spring!


Bo said...

Beautiful. I'd not read it before. Happy Easter! You've been ominously quiet, Jane... xxx

Jane Holland said...

Yes, I have, haven't I?

If only it was down to dedicated writing. But I've got exams coming up and have been - not very successfully - attempting to study for them. Also, my recent trip down to Cornwall to see my daughter and meet the father of her unborn child was "interesting", to say the least.