Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
A few weeks back I wrote about the weeds in my lawn. Now, as any gardener knows, weeds tend to return and so here is another piece on the subject. This one ends with an environmental plea; one that I hope we will all take to heart.
Firstly, let me introduce you to a man with whom I share the same birthplace and religious upbringing. He was born just over one hundred years before me but, like me he was brought up in the Anglican tradition. There, however the similarities end as our life journeys took a very different course, although a love for poetry and the environment is common to each of us. Indeed, if he were alive today he would have welcomed wholeheartedly the Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si. Like Pope Francis he became a Jesuit, having taken the advice of John Henry Newman to embrace the Roman Catholic tradition whilst studying at Oxford aged 22. I am referring, of course to Gerald Manley Hopkins SJ.
Hopkins had been a prolific poet since his days at Highgate School and continued to write poetry alongside his duties as a Jesuit priest. In 1881 whilst a pastor at a church in Glasgow, he spent some time in the little village of Inversnaid, some 40 miles north of the city at the head of Loch Lomond. Near the village are some streams that race down over rocks into the lake. In addition to his love of the natural world Hopkins loved to hear how people speak, their dialects, their accents, their intonation patterns and that love shows up in this poem that I invite you to read aloud as Hopkins intended. Importantly as I said earlier, the poem ends with an environmental plea that resonates with us today. I hope you enjoy it.
This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fáawn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew,
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Gerald Manley Hopkins SJ
If you enjoyed this poem I invite you to visit: https://hopkinspoetry.com/ where you will find out more about the man and his poetry.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years