Union Jack

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Hopkins loved Our Lady. I therefore dedicate these pages to her namesake, my beloved daughter, Mary. Hopkins aged 15 Hopkins as a Jesuit Priest

GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

His Life through his Poetry







Previous Track: The Starlight Night, Hurrahing in Harvest

TRACK 4: His Joyous Poetry 2

Read by Claire Marchionne
Click to listen
while you read
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
     winning.

Hopkins described The Windhover as "the best thing I ever wrote":

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 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 
          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.

The next track: Pied Beauty, The May Magnificat


Introduction to this Hopkins Feature

Gerard Manley Hopkins Workshop

Home Page

We recommend the Oxford Edition and in particular Sean Street's account of The Wreck of the Deutschland, which he was inspired to write from hearing my production of Paul Scofield's reading for BBC Radio 3.  We also highly recommend Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Study of Poetic Idiosyncrasy in Relation to Poetic Tradition by Professor Helen Gardner: