Hopkins and the dark night

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."

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.

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