Thursday, August 10, 2023

Gerard Manley Hopkins

The summer is nearing its end and I am just beginning to harvest tomatoes. The deer ate all the early ones, but we finally had a lovely one with our dinner last night. And speaking of deer, they were nibbling on some new elderberry bushes again, so I got some peppermint spray and headed out to the yard when there, caught in the act, were two fauns. Still sporting their spots but getting leggy, they ran when we clapped.  Such a heart tug because they are beautiful and graceful, but so destructive.

Two weeks ago was the birthday of Gerard Manley Hopkins.  I just discovered Moonrise, shared below. What a treasure!  

You can find more about Hopkins' life HERE.  and more of his poetry HERE.  

Image by gmccrea from Pixabay


I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,
Or paring of paradisaïcal fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,
Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;
A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quit utterly.
This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,
Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.

Hopkins always surprises and delights me with his word choices... his "fringe of a finger-nail" and "paring of fruit" in this poem, and elsewhere his "dappled things"  and "shook foil."  

I hope you will find some favorites.

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today. Believe me when I say that you will not want to miss her hilarious poem.  What a hoot!!! 

Good summer wishes to you all.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Til by turning, turning...

Linda Mitchell suggested the word "turn" as our focus for this month. Funny thing -we both referenced with the Shaker hymn below.  You probably know it, or have heard it: 

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be;
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come out right.

I remember singing this song but not being sure about the use of "turning, turning" in this instance, so I did a little digging.

This song was relatively unknown throughout our country until Aaron Copland used it in Appalachian Spring. The origin of the song, however, was in 1848 from Elder Joseph Brackett of a Shaker community. Some histories claim it was Elder Joseph Brackett's own song, and mention that Eldress Caroline Helfrich remembered seeing him sing it in a meeting room, turning about "with his coat tails a-flying." You can read more history HERE.

Shaker's believed in living a simple life, going so far as to embrace celibacy and communal living. You may have seen their beautiful but simple furniture, unadorned but graceful in line. Their beliefs stressed humility, so "to bow and bend" was their way. 

"To turn, turn, will be our delight, Till by turning, turning we come out right"... the song accompanies a dance, but aside from the dance steps, does "to turn, turn" have a deeper meaning?

I remembered a lesson from long ago, and found this quote which confirmed my memory: from the website... MORE HERE:

You may be surprised to learn the word repent in the Greek New Testament simply means to turn around. It was a military term describing a soldier marching in one direction and doing an about-face, 180-degree turn. And when it’s used spiritually, it means to change your heart, mind, and habits.

Does this Shaker song speak of "turning" in the sense of repentance? Maybe. Isn't it by repentance that we "come out right?" Don't we all have times when we need to turn, to rethink a matter? To bend some... to practice humility?

"To turn, turn, will be our delight" brought another thought. The result of repentance is often a sense of easing our load, getting a weight off our chest. Yes, that is a delight. 

I wish I could have seen Elder Brackett's dance and asked him about these words. The concept of turning has long been part of the Christian tradition, and I suspect he knew that. Still, it didn't come to my mind right away, I had to think on it. How about you?

"Turn" has many definitions. I look forward to your thoughts.

I wanted to try a Fibonacci poem, and the words of this simple song inspired me. As often happens, one poem begets another:

To Turn: A Fibonacci Poem

Lift your heart
Turn as faith guides you
Delight in simplicity's grace

© Karen Eastlund


I turn to you, my friends, with these questions and comments, and I invite your response.

Many thanks to Linda Mitchell for this prompt and for hosting this month's Spiritual Journey.  You can find her post and links to others HERE.