Poetry Review: “Spring” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

selected-poetry-gerard-manley-hopkins-paperback-cover-artYet another April blizzard descended yesterday on the North Country. According to calendars and the returning birds, spring has arrived. But we know it only as a rumor. Shove-able snow is not the work of spring.

It has been awhile since I have done a poetry review at MontanaWriter. I continue daily to read and write and think about poetry and language. The long winter has had me returning to the comfort of poets and poems that I am most familiar with. Poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Here is a poem about spring as spring is suppose to be by Hopkins.



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.         


Listening with a pencil and my ear, these are the lines I marked:

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens


A Hopkins’ line is like no other… alliterative, difficult, and ethereal. In fact, to quote these lines, a Hopkins’ line is, “long and lovely and lush.”

Poetry is the closest thing we have to magic language, the language we use to summon spirits and gods and God himself. Hopkins the priest knew this as well as any poet. His long, lovely, and lush lines are born in his superb understanding of this reality. It is why I so often find myself returning to his poetry.



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