Now that Dawn has returned home with the new granddaugter and Gavin is no longer staying with us, I’ve had a little time to get back to reading Hopkins again.
As always I’m a little amazed that although a few of his poems seem to be among the greatest ever written, most of them have little appeal to me. In that sense, he reminds me of Andrew Marvel, whose “To His Coy Mistress” must rank among one of the greatest poems ever written, but whose work as a whole is largely forgotten. It’s no wonder that no one has matched Hopkins’ masterpieces; he seldom does himself.
Ocassionally, though, there is a poem I just feel comfortable with:
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.
I suspect I like this poem more for what it says than how it says it, though I do admire lines like “I cast for comfort I can no more get/ By groping round my comfortless, than blind/ Eyes in their dark can day” and, even more so, “leave comfort root-room,” perhaps because too often I don’t leave time enough in my life to be comfortable.
Too often I’m caught ‘tween extremes, my Type-A personality driving me further than I should and would, leaving precious little time to savor quieter moments, moments, looking back, that take on added significance because they are so rare. I often suspect that I’m too hard on myself, constantly disappointed because I don’t think I’ve lived up to the goals I’ve set for myself.
Certainly I need to “call off thoughts awhile,” quit worrying about what should be or need be done and try enjoy what has been done, and, most of all, simply what is.