All posts by Jonathon

Epithalamion* by Gerard Manley Hopkins (and friend)

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

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .


Consider Christ our Saviour by Jonathon Penny

331cristoXV(warmwhite)exp by J. Kirk Richards

Consider Christ our Saviour: an Eventual Pastoral

Divine in nature, nurtured in a crèche
Born to woman, subject to the flesh

In parts and passions ever one of us
Slow to anger, angered nonetheless

Meek and mighty, normal to behold
Man of sorrows, joy of fallen worlds

Bread of life, made hungry by the lack
Twice-crossed Lamb, and bridger of doom’s crack

He is both paradox and its solution
The bringer of the barren to fruition

A beast of burden, lowly in His field
Who, by His bearing, harvests what He healed

J. Kirk Richards‘ “Cristo XV” used with permission. For more from Jonathon Penny, see here.

Miswinter by Jonathon Penny

"Alnwick Marketplace" by Andy Armstrong via Creative Commons, 21/1/06

I’ve had enough of deserts,
Wish to shed my summer clothes
And wear my long-forgotten woolen, warming winter robes.

Want mittened hands, and beating
Round my body in the cold
To ward off frost, to hover over heat and hearth and coals.

Want stockinged feet, and booted,
Want the crunch and whine of snow,
Want the red-cheeked strain of shoveling a passage to the road.

Want to warm the air with breathing,
Breathe the hale and hearty frost,
Want the windblown grace and loss of winter’s cradle, and its cross.

For more from Jonathon Penny, go here.

After Michaelmas by Jonathon Penny

Robert Moore, Blackberry Orchard in Snow, 5/12/11

No devil-watered blackberries,
Whose succulence is long past anyway,
Since Winter’s chill blew down the collar of the wood,
Swept clean the dell and dingle, copse and field.

Sweep clean the dell and dingle, halt the yield,
Hibernia’s onset blast! Freeze crop and crud!
They’ll shiver in a gasp of shorter days
And doff their autumn liveries.


Photo by Robert Moore via Creative Commons. Find more from Jonathon Penny here.

Bush Men by Bradley McIlwain

Bush Men--McIlwain
Original photo by Bradley McIlwain

(for R.D.)

river rushes north
along aged Indian

trails cupping hands
with scout guides

and ghosts of foreign
navigators once lost

among mosquito marsh
and dense brush, asking

sustenance from
unforgiving earth

plucking berries
you picked in autumn

before she turned
gold to silver and

mud brown—the
end of hunting

and the creation of
renewed paths, when

beauty paved the road to
harshness, we gathered

dancing in deer skins, to
the sacred drum, hoping

to find the heartbeat that
Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian-based writer and poet who lives and works in rural Ontario as a freelance reporter, covering stories on local heritage, the arts, and human interest. The narratives in his poetry often stem from a desire to paint the natural world around him, and exploring its intimate connection with memory. In addition to the classics, he enjoys reading the work of M.G. Vassanji, Gregory Scofield, and Tom MacGregor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, from Trent University, with a major in English Literature. His first book of poems, Fracture, is now available. You can also find his poetry on YouTube, or by visiting his blog. Mr. McIlwain has published with WIZ previously.

Fern Hill Revisited by Jonathon Penny

Time held me green and dying, though I sang,
And spun me off the whinnied fields and out of praise
In his big harvest hands ‘til horse and hen and place
Were only memory, then myth, then vacant space
Implacable as Time’s own clockwork face.
And my worn trap-spring sprang,

And I, Time’s time-mocked minion,
Found Death had no dominion after all,
And all was Eden, more than Eden—
A Heaven pastoral, as earthy as that dell,
As chatty as those ricks, borne as the very farm
Grown green and golden about Fern Hill.