Tuesday, August 27, 2002
No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, world sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing--
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked no ling-
-gering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

So after a little August vacation, a lovely poem from Hopkins. Despite its many obvious and easy targets (the extreme, mawkish, elaborate plea; the ling break), I find this, and him, wonderful for a number of reasons. His rhythms are fantastic--odd, difficult, stuttering, but stuttering in the way that brings you into understanding, and the gentle smooth release of the final line that eases at last the dense constriction of the body. And his compression, and his address, both startling and hard to follow, but, for me, appropriate to the intensely personal nature of the dialog--as if tortured out, and in its economy making it clear he is not a fool, that he has passed the easy answers and the simple comforts. If you can follow him here, it seems to say through the structure, then you know his meaning. He sees more clearly than perhaps anyone down to the bones of the language--the parts of words that he needs to mean, only those that lurch him forward. Lovely.


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