A Year of Inspirers (13) – “Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet”, and the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins

Hopkins was so sensitive to the beauty of nature, he prized the “wildness” and “wilderness” of life on our earth:

“What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”

(From ‘Inversnaid’ https://www.bartleby.com/122/33.html)

On another poem he grieves for the cutting down of poplar trees at Binsey near Oxford:

(‘Binsey Poplars’,  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44390/binsey-poplars)

And for me, nothing quite surpasses the simplicity of this line from a beautiful sonnet called Spring  

(‘Spring’ – https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51002/spring-56d22e75d65bd)

He was fascinated by the philosophy of Duns Scotus, a mediaeval writer, who celebrated the haecceity (this-ness) of things – every living thing is distinctly itself, never again to be repeated – wonderfully captured in his poem with the memorable title of “As kingfishers catch fire”   https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44389/as-kingfishers-catch-fire

In this poem he explores the human implications of haecceity.  Each of us has a unique, individual vocation, to offer what we distinctly are to the world:

“What I do is me

For that I came”

And he celebrates the beauty of humanity:

Another poem you might enjoy is “The Windhover” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44402/the-windhover

And if you want a challenge, perhaps his most powerful work is “The Wreck of the Deutschland”, which is part autobiography, part the re-evoking of an overwhelming storm at sea leading to a wreck, and part a meditation on life, death, faith and God.


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