Hopkins and the dark night
Joseph A. Komonchak August 25, 2007 - 9:49am
Gerard Manley Hopkins suffered from dark nights, too, and wrote at least four poems while he was in the midst of them; theyre often called "the Terrible Sonnets." This is one of them, written, it seems, he was starting to come out of the dark.
My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormenting mind tormenting yet.
I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping around my comfortless, than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thirst can find
Thirsts 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 ratheras skies
Betweenpie mountainslights a lovely mile.
By the way, in the last line, "betweenpie" is a word that Hopkins made up. He seems to have taken the word "pied," meaning "of various colors," taken it to be the passive participle of a (non-existent) verb, namely "pie," so that the whole phrase means, as one commentator puts it: "as the sky seen between dark mountains is brightly dappled."
About the Author
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.