THAT NATURE IS A HERACLITEAN FIRE AND OF THE COMFORT OF THE RESURRECTION
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 rutpeel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crust, dust;
Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there
Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, | nature’s bonfire
But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-
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
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
A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, | joyless
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 am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood,
Is immortal diamond.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Quite something, isn’t it? Written in 1888, this is a sonnet with sprung rhythm and three codas, concerned with the joy Hopkins felt in nature. The allusion to the resurrection is not so much specifically concerned with Jesus, but rather the resurrection of all Christians from the dead (Corinthians 15:51-3). And the diamond, of course, in its indestructibility, suggests at immortality.
[Words by N R Nolan]