Gerard Manley Hopkins

(28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889 / Stratford, Essex)

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Easter Communion


Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast:
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips,
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu's; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,

God shall o'er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

Submitted: Tuesday, November 25, 2003

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  • Rookie - 7 Points Roseann Novak (2/4/2012 8:11:00 AM)

    Hopkins describes a religious experience foreign to most of us. I would not judge the poet by this poem - so much of his work is replete with joy, reverence, and wisdom. Not to mention transcendent language. He is one of the greats. Listen! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 7 Points Michael Pruchnicki (2/4/2010 8:25:00 PM)

    For Christ's sake and for the sake of your own literary and mortal soul, read Hopkins' sonnet with an open mind! Put aside the nonsense promulgated by the likes of Straw, Blanes and Miss Garvey who seem determined to obscure the message of a powerful sonnet written for the likes of secular sinners like you and me!

    How many of us have felt the need to repent for the wromgs we have done to others, intended or not? Easter is always on the horizon for Christians! Even secular saints like Straw in all honesty mist acknowledge that! Hopkins' sonnet has nothing to do with self-flagellation the way some of you read it - a whipping of one's body with knotted ropes! It's more a recognition of our need to repent and take the punishment we deserve!

    Please take the time to read Father Hopkins' poetry in the spirit hw meant it, rather than the 21st century secular meaning! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 161 Points Anne Garvey (2/4/2010 8:33:00 AM)

    I have just joined the Poemhunter group and I am so disappointed in this offering. Gerard Manley Hopkins I do think, is a great poet and this one is generally left right out of the collections, I have never seen it before. I completely agree with the comments of contributors about masochism. Why was this featured> It is not Easter or anything near it, it is not a good poem and has to us rather suspect sentiments. And you could have chosen The Windhover, Pied Beauty, Binsey Poplars or actually just about anything else he wrote, all of which I hugely recommend to you readers. No, this is really going too far and a bit of a shakey start for me. Do look up GMH's stuff though, the Sprung Rhythm does work by the way, I think so. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 161 Points Jon Blanes (2/4/2010 7:23:00 AM)

    Any poetry thats words do no trascend its epoch is not great poetry. I'm afraid, therfore, that this is not great poetry... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 161 Points Kevin Straw (2/4/2010 5:53:00 AM)

    Self-flagellation is a particularly unpleasant ritual of some Catholics. Poetry like this is, in effect, a presentation of dogma and suffers accordingly, albeit it is technically good poetry. Poetry ascends in value the wider it reflects the universal human condition. If I want religion or history or philosophy I go to those disciplines to find it. This poem tells me that whipping oneself is pleasing to God - did Jesus say that? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 106 Points Indira Renganathan (2/4/2010 2:14:00 AM)

    Pure fasted... Lenten lips....low flames decreased, ...all said to end with' Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees'....very lovely prsentation. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 147 Points Ramesh T A (2/4/2010 1:21:00 AM)

    Usual preaching about God done in his own emphatic style in a sonnet structure with rhymes also Hopkins makes this poem something wonderful! (Report) Reply

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