20+ Best Gerard Manley Hopkins Poems You Must Read

Gerard Manley Hopkins was an English poet and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets.

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Famous Gerard Manley Hopkins Poems

The Soldier

Yes. Why do we áll, seeing of a soldier, bless him? bless
Our redcoats, our tars? Both these being, the greater part,
But frail clay, nay but foul clay. Here it is: the heart,
Since, proud, it calls the calling manly, gives a guess
That, hopes that, makesbelieve, the men must be no less;
It fancies, feigns, deems, dears the artist after his art;
And fain will find as sterling all as all is smart,
And scarlet wear the spirit of wár thére express.

Mark Christ our King. He knows war, served this soldiering through;
He of all can handle a rope best. There he bides in bliss
Now, and séeing somewhére some mán do all that man can do,
For love he leans forth, needs his neck must fall on, kiss,
And cry ‘O Christ-done deed! So God-made-flesh does too:
Were I come o’er again’ cries Christ ‘it should be this’.

On The Portrait Of Two Beautiful Young People

A Brother and Sister

O I admire and sorrow! The heart’s eye grieves
Discovering you, dark tramplers, tyrant years.
A juice rides rich through bluebells, in vine leaves,
And beauty’s dearest veriest vein is tears.

Happy the father, mother of these! Too fast:
Not that, but thus far, all with frailty, blest
In one fair fall; but, for time’s aftercast,
Creatures all heft, hope, hazard, interest.

And are they thus? The fine, the fingering beams
Their young delightful hour do feature down
That fleeted else like day-dissolvèd dreams
Or ringlet-race on burling Barrow brown.

She leans on him with such contentment fond
As well the sister sits, would well the wife;
His looks, the soul’s own letters, see beyond,
Gaze on, and fall directly forth on life.

But ah, bright forelock, cluster that you are
Of favoured make and mind and health and youth,
Where lies your landmark, seamark, or soul’s star?
There’s none but truth can stead you. Christ is truth.

There ’s none but good can bé good, both for you
And what sways with you, maybe this sweet maid;
None good but God—a warning wavèd to
One once that was found wanting when Good weighed.

Man lives that list, that leaning in the will
No wisdom can forecast by gauge or guess,
The selfless self of self, most strange, most still,
Fast furled and all foredrawn to No or Yes.

Your feast of; that most in you earnest eye
May but call on your banes to more carouse.
Worst will the best. What worm was here, we cry,
To have havoc-pocked so, see, the hung-heavenward boughs?

Enough: corruption was the world’s first woe.
What need I strain my heart beyond my ken?
O but I bear my burning witness though
Against the wild and wanton work of men.
. . . . . . .

Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray

Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,
Nowhere. Natural heart’s ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.

We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness?—He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.

My Own Heart Let Me Have More Have Pity On; Let

My own heart let me have more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirst ‘s all-in-all in all a world of wet.

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, let be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘s not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather—as skies
Betweenpie mountains—lights a lovely mile.

To His Watch

Mortal my mate, bearing my rock-a-heart
Warm beat with cold beat company, shall I
Earlier or you fail at our force, and lie
The ruins of, rifled, once a world of art?
The telling time our task is; time’s some part,
Not all, but we were framed to fail and die—
One spell and well that one. There, ah thereby
Is comfort’s carol of all or woe’s worst smart.

Field-flown, the departed day no morning brings
Saying ‘This was yours’ with her, but new one, worse,
And then that last and shortest…

To His Watch

Mortal my mate, bearing my rock-a-heart
Warm beat with cold beat company, shall I
Earlier or you fail at our force, and lie
The ruins of, rifled, once a world of art?
The telling time our task is; time’s some part,
Not all, but we were framed to fail and die—
One spell and well that one. There, ah thereby
Is comfort’s carol of all or woe’s worst smart.

Field-flown, the departed day no morning brings
Saying ‘This was yours’ with her, but new one, worse,
And then that last and shortest…

The Bugler’s First Communion

A buglar boy from barrack (it is over the hill
There)—boy bugler, born, he tells me, of Irish
Mother to an English sire (he
Shares their best gifts surely, fall how things will),

This very very day came down to us after a boon he on
My late being there begged of me, overflowing
Boon in my bestowing,
Came, I say, this day to it—to a First Communion.

Here he knelt then ín regimental red.
Forth Christ from cupboard fetched, how fain I of feet
To his youngster take his treat!
Low-latched in leaf-light housel his too huge godhead.

There! and your sweetest sendings, ah divine,
By it, heavens, befall him! as a heart Christ’s darling, dauntless;
Tongue true, vaunt- and tauntless;
Breathing bloom of a chastity in mansex fine.

Frowning and forefending angel-warder
Squander the hell-rook ranks sally to molest him;
March, kind comrade, abreast him;
Dress his days to a dexterous and starlight order.

How it dóes my heart good, visiting at that bleak hill,
When limber liquid youth, that to all I teach
Yields tender as a pushed peach,
Hies headstrong to its wellbeing of a self-wise self-will!

Then though I should tread tufts of consolation
Dáys áfter, só I in a sort deserve to
And do serve God to serve to
Just such slips of soldiery Christ’s royal ration.

Nothing élse is like it, no, not all so strains
Us: fresh youth fretted in a bloomfall all portending
That sweet’s sweeter ending;
Realm both Christ is heir to and thére réigns.

O now well work that sealing sacred ointment!
O for now charms, arms, what bans off bad
And locks love ever in a lad!
Let mé though see no more of him, and not disappointment

Those sweet hopes quell whose least me quickenings lift,
In scarlet or somewhere of some day seeing
That brow and bead of being,
An our day’s God’s own Galahad. Though this child’s drift

Seems by a divíne doom chánnelled, nor do I cry
Disaster there; but may he not rankle and roam
In backwheels though bound home?—
That left to the Lord of the Eucharist, I here lie by;

Recorded only, I have put my lips on pleas
Would brandle adamantine heaven with ride and jar, did
Prayer go disregarded:
Forward-like, but however, and like favourable heaven heard these.

The Handsome Heart

‘But tell me, child, your choice; what shall I buy
You?’—‘Father, what you buy me I like best.’
With the sweetest air that said, still plied and pressed,
He swung to his first poised purport of reply.

What the heart is! which, like carriers let fly—
Doff darkness, homing nature knows the rest—
To its own fine function, wild and self-instressed,
Falls light as ten years long taught how to and why.

Mannerly-hearted! more than handsome face—
Beauty’s bearing or muse of mounting vein,
All, in this case, bathed in high hallowing grace…

Of heaven what boon to buy you, boy, or gain
Not granted?—Only … O on that path you pace
Run all your race, O brace sterner that strain!

The May Magnificat

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season-

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?-
Growth in every thing-

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all-

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

The Silver Jubilee

To James First Bishop of Shrewsbury on the 25th Year of his Episcopate July 28. 1876

1

Though no high-hung bells or din
Of braggart bugles cry it in—
What is sound? Nature’s round
Makes the Silver Jubilee.

2

Five and twenty years have run
Since sacred fountains to the sun
Sprang, that but now were shut,
Showering Silver Jubilee.

3

Feasts, when we shall fall asleep,
Shrewsbury may see others keep;
None but you this her true,
This her Silver Jubilee.

4

Not today we need lament
Your wealth of life is some way spent:
Toil has shed round your head
Silver but for Jubilee.

5

Then for her whose velvet vales
Should have pealed with welcome, Wales,
Let the chime of a rhyme
Utter Silver Jubilee.

Ribblesdale

Earth, sweet Earth, sweet landscape, with leavés throng
And louchéd low grass, heaven that dost appeal
To, with no tongue to plead, no heart to feel;
That canst but only be, but dost that long—

Thou canst but be, but that thou well dost; strong
Thy plea with him who dealt, nay does now deal,
Thy lovely dale down thus and thus bids reel
Thy river, and o’er gives all to rack or wrong.

And what is Earth’s eye, tongue, or heart else, where
Else, but in dear and dogged man?—Ah, the heir
To his own selfbent so bound, so tied to his turn,
To thriftless reave both our rich round world bare
And none reck of world after, this bids wear
Earth brows of such care, care and dear concern.

The Half-Way House

Love I was shewn upon the mountain-side
And bid to catch Him ere the dropp of day.
See, Love, I creep and Thou on wings dost ride:
Love it is evening now and Thou away;
Love, it grows darker here and Thou art above;
Love, come down to me if Thy name be Love.

My national old Egyptian reed gave way;
I took of vine a cross-barred rod or rood.
Then next I hungered: Love when here, they say,
Or once or never took love’s proper food;
But I must yield the chase, or rest and eat. –
Peace and food cheered me where four rough ways meet.

Hear yet my paradox: Love, when all is given,
To see Thee I must [see] Thee, to love, love;
I must o’ertake Thee at once and under heaven
If I shall overtake Thee at last above.
You have your wish; enter these walls, one said:
He is with you in the breaking of the bread.

St. Winefred’s Well

Enter Teryth from riding, Winefred following.

T. WHAT is it, Gwen, my girl? why do you hover and haunt me?

W. You came by Caerwys, sir?
T. I came by Caerwys.
W. There
Some messenger there might have met you from my uncle.
T. Your uncle met the messenger—met me; and this the message:
Lord Beuno comes to-night.
W. To-night, sir!
T. Soon, now: therefore
Have all things ready in his room.
W. There needs but little doing.
T. Let what there needs be done. Stay! with him one companion,
His deacon, Dirvan Warm: twice over must the welcome be,
But both will share one cell.—This was good news, Gwenvrewi.
W. Ah yes!
T. Why, get thee gone then; tell thy mother I want her.

Exit Winefred.

No man has such a daughter. The fathers of the world
Call no such maiden ‘mine’. The deeper grows her dearness
And more and more times laces round and round my heart,
The more some monstrous hand gropes with clammy fingers there,
Tampering with those sweet bines, draws them out, strains them, strains them;
Meantime some tongue cries ‘What, Teryth! what, thou poor fond father!
How when this bloom, this honeysuckle, that rides the air so rich about thee,
Is all, all sheared away, thus!’ Then I sweat for fear.
Or else a funeral, and yet ’tis not a funeral,
Some pageant which takes tears and I must foot with feeling that
Alive or dead my girl is carried in it, endlessly
Goes marching thro’ my mind. What sense is this? It has none.
This is too much the father; nay the mother. Fanciful!
I here forbid my thoughts to fool themselves with fears.

Enter Gwenlo.
. . . . . . . .

ACT II.—Scene, a wood ending in a steep bank over a dry dene, Winefred having been murdered within. Re-enter Caradoc with a bloody sword.

C. My heart, where have we been? What have we seen, my mind?
What stroke has Caradoc’s right arm dealt? what done? Head of a rebel
Struck off it has; written upon lovely limbs,
In bloody letters, lessons of earnest, of revenge;
Monuments of my earnest, records of my revenge,
On one that went against me whéreas I had warned her—
Warned her! well she knew. I warned her of this work.
What work? what harm ’s done? There is no harm done, none yet;
Perhaps we struck no blow, Gwenvrewi lives perhaps;
To makebelieve my mood was—mock. O I might think so
But here, here is a workman from his day’s task sweats.
Wiped I am sure this was; it seems not well; for still,
Still the scarlet swings and dances on the blade.
So be it. Thou steel, thou butcher,
I cán scour thee, fresh burnish thee, sheathe thee in thy dark lair; these drops
Never, never, never in their blue banks again.
The woeful, Cradock, O the woeful word! Then what,
What have we seen? Her head, sheared from her shoulders, fall,
And lapped in shining hair, roll to the bank’s edge; then
Down the beetling banks, like water in waterfalls,
It stooped and flashed and fell and ran like water away.
Her eyes, oh and her eyes!
In all her beauty, and sunlight to it is a pit, den, darkness,
Foam-falling is not fresh to it, rainbow by it not beaming,
In all her body, I say, no place was like her eyes,
No piece matched those eyes kept most part much cast down
But, being lifted, immortal, of immortal brightness.
Several times I saw them, thrice or four times turning;
Round and round they came and flashed towards heaven: O there,
There they did appeal. Therefore airy vengeances
Are afoot; heaven-vault fast purpling portends, and what first lightning
Any instant falls means me. And I do not repent;
I do not and I will not repent, not repent.
The blame bear who aroused me. What I have done violent
I have like a lion done, lionlike done,
Honouring an uncontrolled royal wrathful nature,
Mantling passion in a grandeur, crimson grandeur.
Now be my pride then perfect, all one piece. Henceforth
In a wide world of defiance Caradoc lives alone,
Loyal to his own soul, laying his own law down, no law nor
Lord now curb him for ever. O daring! O deep insight!
What is virtue? Valour; only the heart valiant.
And right? Only resolution; will, his will unwavering
Who, like me, knowing his nature to the heart home, nature’s business,
Despatches with no flinching. But will flesh, O can flesh
Second this fiery strain? Not always; O no no!
We cannot live this life out; sometimes we must weary
And in this darksome world what comfort can I find?
Down this darksome world cómfort whére can I find
When ’ts light I quenched; its rose, time’s one rich rose, my hand,
By her bloom, fast by her fresh, her fleecèd bloom,
Hideous dashed down, leaving earth a winter withering
With no now, no Gwenvrewi. I must miss her most
That might have spared her were it but for passion-sake. Yes,
To hunger and not have, yét hope ón for, to storm and strive and
Be at every assault fresh foiled, worse flung, deeper disappointed,
The turmoil and the torment, it has, I swear, a sweetness,
Keeps a kind of joy in it, a zest, an edge, an ecstasy,
Next after sweet success. I am not left even this;
I all my being have hacked in half with her neck: one part,
Reason, selfdisposal, choice of better or worse way,
Is corpse now, cannot change; my other self, this soul,
Life’s quick, this kínd, this kéen self-feeling,
With dreadful distillation of thoughts sour as blood,
Must all day long taste murder. What do nów then? Do? Nay,
Deed-bound I am; one deed treads all down here cramps all doing. What do? Not yield,
Not hope, not pray; despair; ay, that: brazen despair out,
Brave all, and take what comes—as here this rabble is come,
Whose bloods I reck no more of, no more rank with hers
Than sewers with sacred oils. Mankind, that mobs, comes. Come!

Enter a crowd, among them Teryth, Gwenlo, Beuno.
. . . . . . . .

After Winefred’s raising from the dead and the breaking out of the fountain.

BEUNO. O now while skies are blue, now while seas are salt,
While rushy rains shall fall or brooks shall fleet from fountains,
While sick men shall cast sighs, of sweet health all despairing,
While blind men’s eyes shall thirst after daylight, draughts of daylight,
Or deaf ears shall desire that lipmusic that ’s lost upon them,
While cripples are, while lepers, dancers in dismal limb-dance,
Fallers in dreadful frothpits, waterfearers wild,
Stone, palsy, cancer, cough, lung wasting, womb not bearing,
Rupture, running sores, what more? in brief; in burden,
As long as men are mortal and God merciful,
So long to this sweet spot, this leafy lean-over,
This Dry Dene, now no longer dry nor dumb, but moist and musical
With the uproll and the downcarol of day and night delivering
Water, which keeps thy name, (for not in róck wrítten,
But in pale water, frail water, wild rash and reeling water,
That will not wear a print, that will not stain a pen,
Thy venerable record, virgin, is recorded).
Here to this holy well shall pilgrimages be,
And not from purple Wales only nor from elmy England,
But from beyond seas, Erin, France and Flanders, everywhere,
Pilgrims, still pilgrims, móre pílgrims, still more poor pilgrims.
. . . . . . . .
What sights shall be when some that swung, wretches, on crutches
Their crutches shall cast from them, on heels of air departing,
Or they go rich as roseleaves hence that loathsome cáme hither!
Not now to náme even
Those dearer, more divine boons whose haven the heart is.
. . . . . . . .
As sure as what is most sure, sure as that spring primroses
Shall new-dapple next year, sure as to-morrow morning,
Amongst come-back-again things, thíngs with a revival, things with a recovery,
Thy name…

The Furl Of Fresh-Leaved Dogrose Down

The furl of fresh-leaved dogrose down
His cheeks the forth-and-flaunting sun
Had swarthed about with lion-brown
Before the Spring was done.

His locks like all a ravel-rope’s-end,
With hempen strands in spray—
Fallow, foam-fallow, hanks—fall’n off their ranks,
Swung down at a disarray.

Or like a juicy and jostling shock
Of bluebells sheaved in May
Or wind-long fleeces on the flock
A day off shearing day.

Then over his turnèd temples—here—
Was a rose, or, failing that,
Rough-Robin or five-lipped campion clear
For a beauty-bow to his hat,
And the sunlight sidled, like dewdrops, like dandled diamonds
Through the sieve of the straw of the plait.

Penmaen Pool

For the Visitors’ Book at the Inn

Who long for rest, who look for pleasure
Away from counter, court, or school
O where live well your lease of leisure
But here at, here at Penmaen Pool?

You’ll dare the Alp? you’ll dart the skiff?—
Each sport has here its tackle and tool:
Come, plant the staff by Cadair cliff;
Come, swing the sculls on Penmaen Pool.

What’s yonder?—Grizzled Dyphwys dim:
The triple-hummocked Giant’s stool,
Hoar messmate, hobs and nobs with him
To halve the bowl of Penmaen Pool.

And all the landscape under survey,
At tranquil turns, by nature’s rule,
Rides repeated topsyturvy
In frank, in fairy Penmaen Pool.

And Charles’s Wain, the wondrous seven,
And sheep-flock clouds like worlds of wool,
For all they shine so, high in heaven,
Shew brighter shaken in Penmaen Pool.

The Mawddach, how she trips! though throttled
If floodtide teeming thrills her full,
And mazy sands all water-wattled
Waylay her at ebb, past Penmaen Pool.

But what’s to see in stormy weather,
When grey showers gather and gusts are cool?—
Why, raindrop-roundels looped together
That lace the face of Penmaen Pool.

Then even in weariest wintry hour
Of New Year’s month or surly Yule
Furred snows, charged tuft above tuft, tower
From darksome darksome Penmaen Pool.

And ever, if bound here hardest home,
You’ve parlour-pastime left and (who’ll
Not honour it?) ale like goldy foam
That frocks an oar in Penmaen Pool.

Then come who pine for peace or pleasure
Away from counter, court, or school,
Spend here your measure of time and treasure
And taste the treats of Penmaen Pool.

The Shepherd’s Brow, Fronting Forked Lightning, Owns

The shepherd’s brow, fronting forked lightning, owns
The horror and the havoc and the glory
Of it. Angels fall, they are towers, from heaven—a story
Of just, majestical, and giant groans.
But man—we, scaffold of score brittle bones;
Who breathe, from groundlong babyhood to hoary
Age gasp; whose breath is our memento mori—
What bass is our viol for tragic tones?
He! Hand to mouth he lives, and voids with shame;
And, blazoned in however bold the name,
Man Jack the man is, just; his mate a hussy.
And I that die these deaths, that feed this flame,
That … in smooth spoons spy life’s masque mirrored: tame
My tempests there, my fire and fever fussy.

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Laybrother of the Society of Jesus

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

Strike, Churl

Strike, churl; hurl, cheerless wind, then; heltering hail
May’s beauty massacre and wispèd wild clouds grow
Out on the giant air; tell Summer No,
Bid joy back, have at the harvest, keep Hope pale.

Tom’s Garland

upon the Unemployed

Tom—garlanded with squat and surly steel
Tom; then Tom’s fallowbootfellow piles pick
By him and rips out rockfire homeforth—sturdy Dick;
Tom Heart-at-ease, Tom Navvy: he is all for his meal
Sure, ’s bed now. Low be it: lustily he his low lot (feel
That ne’er need hunger, Tom; Tom seldom sick,
Seldomer heartsore; that treads through, prickproof, thick
Thousands of thorns, thoughts) swings though. Commonweal
Little I reck ho! lacklevel in, if all had bread:
What! Country is honour enough in all us—lordly head,
With heaven’s lights high hung round, or, mother-ground
That mammocks, mighty foot. But no way sped,
Nor mind nor mainstrength; gold go garlanded
With, perilous, O nó; nor yet plod safe shod sound;
Undenizened, beyond bound
Of earth’s glory, earth’s ease, all; no one, nowhere,
In wide the world’s weal; rare gold, bold steel, bare
In both; care, but share care—
This, by Despair, bred Hangdog dull; by Rage,
Manwolf; worse; and their packs infest the age.

It Was A Hard Thing To Undo This Knot

It was a hard thing to undo this knot.
The rainbow shines, but only in the thought
Of him that looks. Yet not in that alone,
For who makes rainbows by invention?
And many standing round a waterfall
See one bow each, yet not the same to all,
But each a hand’s breadth further than the next.
The sun on falling waters writes the text
Which yet is in the eye or in the thought.
It was a hard thing to undo this knot.

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