Guest poem submitted by Sarah Kunjummen:
(Poem #1594) As Kingfishers Catch Fire
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves -- goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells, Crying _What I do is me: for that I came_. I say more: the just man justices; Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is -- Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his To the Father through the features of men's faces.
(1844-1889). Published in 1918. This site has a pretty good representation of Hopkins' poetry already, but one of my favorites was missing, so I couldn't resist sending it in. This poem is based on his personal philosophy of inscape, which, if I understand rightly, is the inner essence or meaning which every created thing has; somewhat like a platonic ideal, except that each object's inscape is an intrinsic part of itself. It celebrates a nature which, though perhaps fallen, is still marvelous in being what it is so exuberantly and gracefully. In the second part of the sonnet, Hopkins extends this idea to mankind. The just show in their every action an inner character and grace that reflects the character of God, and in doing so are beautiful to God himself. The last four lines hold echoes of Christian doctrines of justification and sanctification. I love Hopkins's vision of even the most insignificant things (stones, dragonflies, humans, etc.) having a meaning and beauty uniquely their own. The poem is a sonnet, with an abbaabba cdcdcd rhyme scheme, but instead of the traditional sonnet meter, employs sprung rhythm, a more Germanic type of poetry in which only emphasized syllables are counted. In view of this difference, the strong meter of this poem never fails to surprise me. Gerard Manley Hopkins was a Jesuit priest, coming into the Catholic church in the Oxford movement and received by Cardinal Newman. His poetry was not published in his lifetime; in fact, he was very far out of the mainstream of Victorian poetry. While no information is really necessary to enjoy his poetry, I think there's a much more extensive bio attached to Poem #606, "God's Grandeur." Sarah.