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Epithalamion* by Gerard Manley Hopkins (and friend)

by Jonathon | 2.14.12

Danced and dandled Cascata delle Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

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.

Leafwhelmed but Unseen Cascata dell Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

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.

Sweetest, freshest, shadowiest Cascata delle Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

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 quicksilver 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.

And who the gamboled groom? Kingfish Christ-our-Saviour

Or his son. Who the gangway, brindled, bridling bride to shear the very sheep of him?

Church and churchgoing churchcoming churchliving churchloving

Christkeeping. Who, indeed, the latecome, lightshorn, grinning, gaming guests?

We. Us. Poor. Oh!


After the Wedding Cascata dell Marmore 2009--Jonathon Penny

Father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends

Into fairy trees, wild flowers, wood ferns

Rankèd round the bower leap! assemble! and withdraw the veiling world

And witness there the sunblonde, brightburned waking

And the wedding of the Word: wellspoken, wild, child, grown

Aggrieved, grieved, and greeted

Gastly, good.


___________________________________________________________


*A fragment posthumously published in Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Poems. Ed. Robert Bridges. London: Humphrey Milford, 1918. The complete text can be found here.

Note: Italicized words are Jonathon Penny’s. The poem ends, originally, thus:

Wedlock. What the water? Spousal love.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends

Into fairy trees, wild flowers, wood ferns

Rankèd round the bower

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

GerardManleyHopkins

4 Responses to Epithalamion* by Gerard Manley Hopkins (and friend)

  1. Gail White

    It takes a brave soul to collaborate with a master like Hopkins. I think Jonathan has done it well.

  2. Jonathon Penny

    Thanks very much, Gail. Donne, Hopkins, Herbert, and Thomas are the four that haunt me. But “Epithalamion” was a recent re-discovery, and it seemed to fit so nicely with LONNOL that I thought I ought to give it a shot.

  3. Patricia

    “Give it a shot”. The image that comes to mind is of a sharpshooter outlining the body of his steel-nerved assistant with bullet holes.

    Tell me, Jonathon, what effect does a playword like “waterblowballs” have on you?

  4. Jonathon

    Well, in this particular case, not much. I’m down with most of Hopkins’ portmanteaux, though. This one, while I think I understand the phenomenon he’s gesturing at, feels less adequate than so much else that happens in his poems.

    How about you?

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