Gerard Manley Hopkins

by Leontia Flynn

At the mention of Gerard Manley Hopkins, my mild-mannered father
– tender, abstracted – would exercise the right
to revert to type. That is to say: devout; that is, proscriptive. He would rather
we did not so bandy the good Jesuit’s name about
in talk of “gay this” and “gay that” – just as he would rather
my sister did not, from the library, request “sick” Lolita
Like tars on a stage-deck, yo ho, we roll our eyes.
Somebody snaps on the poisonous gas fire heater
– and I put off a year or two the hypothesis
I’ll form, with a wave, to provoke him to these wobblers
that all in such matters swing from pole to pole;
as Hopkins was wont (his muse being bi[nsey] po[p]lar[s])
to swing from joy’s heights, alas, to the abyss
and for whom the mind had “mountains; cliffs of fall”.

 

II

“O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
may who ne’er hung there…” Who’s not known the hell
that fashions itself from the third night without sleep –
the third or the fourth – in whose black margins crawl
shrill horrors, and where breathless, poleaxed, pinned,
– as though in the teeth of an outrageous gale –
the mind – sick – preys upon the stricken mind.
And “worst, there is none” – no none – than this wild grief:
Citalopram-wired. Our sweating selves self-cursed.
Oh, “Mary, mother of us, where is your relief,”
as Hopkins wrote – but, far gone, at its worst
it’s her first form I want. Please stroke my hair.
It’s alright now. I’m here, I’m here. There, there.