Tag Archives: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Hurrahing in Harvest

Wheat Field with Cypresses. Vincent van Gogh. 1889.
Wheat Field with Cypresses. Vincent van Gogh. 1889.

Hurrahing in Harvest

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise

Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour

Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier

Meal-drift moulded ever and melded across the skies?


I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,

Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour,

And éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a

Rapturous loves’ greeting of realer, of rounder replies?


And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder

Majestic—as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!—

These things, these things were here and but the beholder

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.



A Canyon. Gustav Dore. 1878.



Gerard Manley Hopkins


“Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself.” —Isaiah 45:15


God, though to Thee our psalm we raise

No answering voice comes from the skies;

To Thee the trembling sinner prays

But no forgiving voice replies;

Our prayer seems lost in desert ways,

Our hymn in the vast silence dies.


We see the glories of the earth

But not the hand that wrought them all:

Night to a myriad worlds gives birth,

Yet like a lighted empty hall

Where stands no host at door or hearth

Vacant creation’s lamps appall.


We guess; we clothe Thee, unseen King,

With attributes we deem are meet;

Each in his own imagining

Sets up a shadow in Thy seat;

Yet know not how our gifts to bring,

Where seek Thee with unsandalled feet.


And still th’unbroken silence broods

While ages and while æons runs,

As erst upon chaotic floods

The Spirit hovered ere the sun

Had called the seasons’ changeful moods

And life’s first germs from death had won.


And still th’abysses infinite

Surround the peak from which we gaze.

Deep calls to deep, and blackest night

Giddies the soul with blinding daze

That dares to cast its searching sight

On being’s dread and vacant maze.


And Thou art silent, whilst Thy world

Contends about its many creeds

And hosts confront with flags unfurled

And zeal is flushed and pity bleeds

And truth is heard, with tears impearled,

A moaning voice among the reeds.


My hand upon my lips I lay;

The breast’s desponding sob I quell;

I move along life’ tomb-decked way

And listen to the passing bell

Summoning men from speechless day

To death’s more silent, darker spell.


Oh! till Thou givest that sense beyond,

To shew Thee that Thou art, and near,

Let patience with her chastening wand

And lead me child-like by the hand

If still in darkness not in fear.


Speak! whisper to my watching heart

One word-as when a mother speaks

Soft, when she sees her infant start,

Till dimpled joy steals o’er its cheeks.

Then, to behold Thee as Thou art,

I’ll wait till morn eternal breaks.


“Nondum” is Latin for “not yet.” Hopkins’ moving poem echoes the Psalmist who cries, “How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever?” (Psalm 89). In a time of spiritual darkness, Hopkins fails to find any comfort in prayer or in nature. He pleads for a single whisper from God’s “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19), to strengthen him until the time he can know God “even as I am known (1 Cor. 13).

The Windhover

Wheat Field with a Lark. Vincent van Gogh. 1887.


The Windhover

Gerard Manley Hopkins


To Christ Our Lord


I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

High there, how he rung upon the reign of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! 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 thing!


Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here

Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!


No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,

Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Pied Beauty

Milkmaid with Cows. Julien Dupré.


Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins


Glory be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches wings;

Landscape plotted and pierced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And áll trádes, 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.

Binsey Poplars

Polars on the Banks of the River Epte, Seen from the Marsh. Claude Monet. 1892.


Binsey Poplars

Gerard Manley Hopkins


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 a meadow & river & wind-wandering weed-winding bank.


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, ten or twelve

Strokes of havoc unselve

The sweet especial scene,

Rural scene, a rural scene,

Sweet especial rural scene.

God’s Grandeur

The Oxbow. The Connecticut River near Northampton. Thomas Cole. 1836.


God’s Grandeur

Gerard Manley Hopkins,


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 tod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

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.


A Fine Picture—While other painters of the Hudson River School would merge the two in Romantic scenes, Thomas Cole chose in this painting to make clear the dichotomy between wilderness and cultivation.

Long after the painting was completed, Matthew Baigell identified the logging scars on the distant hill as Hebrew letters. Viewed upright they seem to spell the name “Noah”; viewed upside down, as though from God’s perspective, the word shaddai, “the Almighty,” is formed.

A tiny self-portrait of Thomas Cole with his easel can be spotted on the rocks in the foreground.

The painting is an entry submitted by Fiona of Vista Court.

Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Study from Nature: Rocks and Trees. Asher Brown Durand. 1836.


Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1889


Righteous art Thou, O Lord, when I complain to Thee, yet I would plead my case before Thee. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?—Jeremiah 12:1


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 endeavor end?

 Wert thou my enemy, O thou my freind,

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, leavéd how thick! lacéd 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.


Hopkin’s poem is a translation and expansion of Jeremiah 12. Always prone to depression, the Jesuit priest and poet had come to feel that his life was wretched and that he had failed to accomplish anything lasting. The earliest manuscript of the poem is dated March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), 1889. Hopkins died of typhoid fever less than three months later. Today, he is recognized as a poet of enduring quality, the writer of such classics as “Spring and Fall,” “The Windhover,” “The Grandeur of God,” and “Pied Beauty.”

Spring and Fall

The Mulberry Tree. Vincent van Gogh. 1889.


Spring and Fall

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1880


Márgarét, áre you gríeving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leáves, líke the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wan wood leafmeal lie;

And yet you will weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sórrow’s spríngs are all the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What hearts heard of, ghost guessed:

It ís the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.


A Fine Picture—”I’ll tell you that we’re having some superb autumn days, and that I’m taking advantage of them,” Vincent wrote to his brother Theo in October 1889, and sent him a number of “studies” including The Mulberry Tree. Vincent was staying at the Saint Paul Asylum in Saint-Remy, following his estrangement from Ganguin and subsequent nervous breakdown. Like the mulberry tree growing on the rocky hillside, he created beauty in a hard place; his thick brushstrokes flame on the canvas in vivid blues and oranges. Vincent sent Theo more paintings that December, but wrote that The Mulberry Tree remained his favorite.

A Little Poetry—The autumnal fall of leaves is a reminder of man’s mortality. Little Margaret weeps, for, though she has no words for the thought, her heart aches with the recognition. In this poem “To a Young Child,” Hopkins used the Germanic “sprung” rhythm that counts only accented syllables, and used words of Germanic origin (with three exceptions). Two words—’wanwood and ‘leafmeal’—Hopkins created on a Germanic basis. The effect is strangely primal but beautiful.

The word ‘ghost‘ here is used to mean the living spirit.

A Little Music—Natalie Merchant beautifully sings Hopkin’s poem to orchestral accompaniment, on her album Leave Your Sleep. This was my introduction to “Spring and Fall.”  <http://www.nataliemerchant.com/l/leave-your-sleep/spring-and-fall-to-a-young-child>