Monday 10 September 2012


a walk and a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Hark, hearer, hear what I do; lend a thought now, make believe
We are leafwhelmed somewhere with the hood
Of some branchy bunchy bushybowered wood,
Southern dene or Lancashire clough or Devon cleave,
That leans along the loins of hills, where a candycoloured, where a gluegold-brown
Marbled river, boisterously beautiful, between
Roots and rocks is danced and dandled, all in froth and waterblowballs, down.
We are there, when we hear a shout
That the hanging honeysuck, the dogeared hazels in the cover
Makes dither, makes hover
And the riot of a rout
Of, it must be, boys from the town
Bathing: it is summer’s sovereign good.

By there comes a listless stranger: beckoned by the noise
He drops towards the river: unseen
Sees the bevy of them, how the boys
With dare and with downdolphinry and bellbright bodies huddling out,
Are earthworld, airworld, waterworld thorough hurled, all by turn and turn about.

This garland of their gambols flashes in his breast
Into such a sudden zest
Of summertime joys
That he hies to a pool neighbouring; sees it is the best
There; sweetest, freshest, shadowiest;
Fairyland; silk-beech, scrolled ash, packed sycamore, wild wychelm, hornbeam fretty overstood
By. Rafts and rafts of flake-leaves light, dealt so, painted on the air,
Hang as still as hawk or hawkmoth, as the stars or as the angels there,
Like the thing that never knew the earth, never off roots
Rose. Here he feasts: lovely all is! No more: off with—down he dings
His bleachèd both and woolwoven wear:
Careless these in coloured wisp
All lie tumbled-to; then with loop-locks
Forward falling, forehead frowning, lips crisp
Over finger-teasing task, his twiny boots
Fast he opens, last he offwrings
Till walk the world he can with bare his feet
And come where lies a coffer, burly all of blocks
Built of chancequarrièd, selfquainèd rocks
And the water warbles over into, filleted with glassy grassy quicksilvery shivès and shoots
And with heavenfallen freshness down from moorland still brims,
Dark or daylight on and on. Here he will then, here he will the fleet
Flinty kindcold element let break across his limbs
Long. Where we leave him, froliclavish while he looks about him, laughs, swims.
Enough now; since the sacred matter that I mean
I should be wronging longer leaving it to float
Upon this only gambolling and echoing-of-earth note—
What is … the delightful dene?
Wedlock. What the water? Spousal love.
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
Father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends
Into fairy trees, wild flowers, wood ferns
Rankèd round the bower

If you click to enlarge,
you will see that the air was filled with dragonflies.

13:09 from Epithalamion


  1. Thankyou! Of all the poets who wrote about the English countryside , he was the one who best captured its richness and variety .
    And you even successfully photographed dragonflies ! I tried a few weeks ago and only managed to tie myself in knots . I'm sure they were laughing at me .

  2. I pointed the camera into the sky, clicked and hoped for the best! It was like being at a very busy airport. I've never seen so many zig-zagging around like that before.

  3. So very beautiful, all of it: words, pix, combinations thereof.

  4. Beautiful, thank you. A sigh and a song.

  5. What a fantastic shot of the dragonflies.......... you must have been so excited!

  6. Thank you for this! I was so busy researching the various meanings attributed to this GMH poem, while listening to RVW's beautiful voice, that I completely forgot to comment. You made this English major very happy!

  7. I love Manley Hopkins and the first verse so perfectly captures the countryside! Unluckily for me I read a very funny and clever parody of his work and the verse about taking off his clothes reminded me a little of it....But thank you so much for such a lovely post- I must go to find my poetry book. Jane xx