Friday, May 25, 2007

Spring -- a Poetry Friday post

With Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, accompanied by warm weather almost country-wide, folks will be celebrating the unofficial start of summer. But summer doesn't truly arrive for another three weeks or so, and so I thought I'd post a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins to remind us all to enjoy the spring.

Hopkins was a Jesuit priest who wrote in traditional forms during the Victorian era in England. However, he used fresh imagery and techniques like sprung rhythm (echoing actual conversational tones instead of adhering rigorously to iambic pentameter or some other set metre). Here is a lovely sonnet in an italianate or Petrarchan form (abba/abba/cdcdcd) for you:

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
&emsp When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
&emsp 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;
&emsp The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
&emsp 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?
&emsp A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
&emsp Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
&emsp Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

And should you, by chance, prefer something more in keeping with the nature of Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, and established to remember those who've died in the service of the United States, then I'll point you to some war poems -- even though the poems I'm pointing you to are by men who were English and Canadian.

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