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Monday, July 18, 2011

Admire and do otherwise

In reading an article by Philip Endean SJ on Ignatian prayer, To Reflect and Draw Profit, I saw mention of a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that I hadn't read before. Here's the reference in the article ....

The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote an extended sonnet setting the world-view of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus against Easter faith. The end of the poem is famous:

In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, ' since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ' patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

When subsequently a friend put it to Hopkins that the poem hardly resembled Heraclitus, Hopkins responded: 'The effect of studying masterpieces is to make me admire and do otherwise'.17 The contrast between these two statements brings home the distinctive nature of Ignatian prayer. The poem may be more vividly expressed, but its theology is one of identification with Christ. By contrast, the sentence from the letter expresses the movement of Ignatian prayer: as we admire the events of Christ's life, we should be stimulated to 'do otherwise'."

17 - The letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges, edited by Claude Colleer Abbott, second edition (Oxford, 1955), p 291.


I'll let you figure out what that means :) by reading the whole article -- it can be downloaded at Fr. Endean's website, on the "Publications" page.

Here's the whole Hopkins poem ....

That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection
By Gerard Manley Hopkins

CLOUD-PUFFBALL, torn tufts, tossed pillows ' flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs ' they throng; they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, ' wherever an elm arches,
Shivelights and shadowtackle in long ' lashes lace, lance, and pair.
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ' ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed ' dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches
Squadroned masks and manmarks ' treadmire toil there
Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, ' nature’s bonfire burns on.
But quench her bonniest, dearest ' to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Man, how fast his firedint, ' his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
Drowned. O pity and indig ' nation! Manshape, that shone
Sheer off, disseveral, a star, ' death blots black out; nor mark
Is any of him at all so stark
But vastness blurs and time ' beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,
A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, ' joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. ' Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; ' world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, ' since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ' patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.


2 Comments:

Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Love it!

Just before Christmas of last year, my son John and I spent a good portion of the drive from Seattle to Spokane by talking abour Gerard Manley Hopkins. He had an I-phone and referenced all kinds of things during our discussion -- a lot of fun!

Thanks for the columns, Crystal.

11:37 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

:)

1:42 AM  

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