Summer ends now

Hurrahing in Harvest

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?
I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?
And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic – as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! –
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet

Gerard Manley Hopkins drafted this, typically complex and prematurely modern, sonnet on September 1st 1877 in the Vale of Clwyd, as he walked home from a day’s fishing in the River Elwy.  It seems a harvest festival sort of poem.

Hurrahing in Harvest

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise

Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour

Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier

Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,

Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;

And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a

Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder

Majestic – as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! –

These things, these things were here and but the beholder

Wanting; which two when they once meet,

The heart rears wings bold and bolder

And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet

Gerard Manley Hopkins drafted this, typically complex and prematurely modern, sonnet in September 1877 in the Vale of Clwyd, as he walked home from a day’s fishing in the River Elwy. It’s a harvest festival sort of poem.

The Windhover

I looked up and saw a kestrel – a windhover – framed in the window.  This is Gerald Manley Hopkins’ description.

The Windhover
To Christ Our Lord
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 ecstasy! 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-vermilion.

Hopkins thought this “the best thing I ever wrote”, although it wasn’t published in his lifetime.  Written in 1877, just before he entered the priesthood, its abstract form and language anticipated the modernist poetry of the 20th century.  Ploughing the field was a common medieval metaphor for a writer’s pen scratching across paper, with furrows corresponding to the rows of letters, and sillion is the soil that’s turned over by the plough.  Although it seems to be a sonnet about kestrel flight, it’s really an Easter passion poem.