Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sunday Sabbath Poetry: Gerard Manley Hopkins

This is one of the most famous and beloved Christian poems of all time. No introduction required by me. Just enjoy. My own below it is in a powerfully different voice, but I hope it similarly evinces the face of Christ in the other.

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As Kingfishers Catch Fire

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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.

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Outside the Camp

You are homeless, and I hate you for that.
How dare you be in need when I have things
To do and places to be? You are dirt
And nausea and ticks and scabs and lice.
Not in my backyard. You are a nightmare
And an abomination in the land.
Get a job, leave me alone, know your role.
You are to be invisible. Therefore
I will ignore you, and I will drive past
You, and I will put you out of my mind.
I will live away from you, my church too.
If you are lucky – if you are lucky –
Our most honorable ministry of
Holy blessed benevolence will make
Room for your needs with funds made possible
By three percent in the budget – now four! –
A number to thank us for. Hard fought such
Generosity! And when you come, do
It Monday: do not desecrate the Lord’s
Day. Be quiet, thankful, outside the camp.
That is where the holy sacrifice of
The Son came to pass, where we do not tread
For fear of his holiness. But we are
Sure you will feel right at home with the Lord
There in the darkness, there beyond our sight:
Where we forget your names and your faces.


  1. holy shit, brad. yours is amazing.

  2. Thanks, Zach -- and welcome to the blog! Nice to hear from you, and see that you're blogging as well. Hope the facial hair and child rearing are going equally well, good sir.

  3. Thanks for the welcome. I've been reading here since the beginning, but I read blogs like a stalker most of the time. Your poem just inspired to come out of my silence for a moment.

    Oh, and I wish the facial hair would go as well as the child rearing. Still can't grow a damn mustache.

  4. Love it! It will soon be posted over at my blog...with permission of course.

  5. By all means, quote away. I'm glad you liked it!

  6. Hopkins had a halibut of heavy halliteration. Tis little known, but this led him to the discovery of Ventriloquism; I have Posted on this aspect of the Scholarship.