“The subjects that interested Hopkins were chiefly intellectual ones; even his most sensuous responses to the natural world were immediately referred to the intellect, which, in the poetry, meant referral to philosophical or theological thought. Although it has seemed regrettable to some readers that Hopkins grafted religious sestets onto octaves of natural beauty, it must be acknowledged that if he had led a different life, his penetrating sense-perceptions would even so have had to be presented to, and mediated by, his intellectual preoccupations (which, in that alternative life, might have been philosophical rather than religious). In any case, the two aspects – the senses and the intellect – would still have had to struggle into stand-offs, reconciliations, suspensions – the very things that happen in the religious poems.
The overwhelming elation Hopkins felt in the presence of natural phenomena (and his consequent grief at the destruction of natural beauty) could not exist unaffected by second-order reflection.”
Helen Vendler reviews ‘The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins Vols I-II’ edited by R.K.R. Thorton and Catherine Phillips · LRB 3 April 2014
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
From the poem “Sometimes”.
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Prayer is like watching for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be there where he is likely to appear, and
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence, and expectancy.
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge that he’s been there,
And may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,
You have been prepared.
But sometimes, when you’ve almost
Stopped expecting it,
A flash of brightness
– Ann Lewin, “Candles and Kingfishers”, quoted in Lost In Wonder , Esther de Waal, without title.
Moses understands, as do the prophets after him, that being in the land poses for Israel a conflict between two economic systems, each of which views the land differently. On the one hand, the land is regarded as property and possession to be bought and sold and traded and used. On the other hand, in a context of covenant, the land is a birthright and an inheritance, one’s own land as a subset of the larger inheritance of the whole people of God. If the land is possession, then the proper way of life is to acquire more. If the land is inheritance, then the proper way of life is to enhance the neighborhood and the extended family so that all members may enjoy the good produce of the land.
– Walter Breuggemann, in Sabbath As Resistance.
Land as inheritance versus land as possession. Commodity versus covenant. Think Wendell Berry. This is the one perspective the environmental movement has right. Then, of course, they immediately begin advocating for state controls over property in order to impose, by law, the right spiritual perspective.
I do feel this lack every day: the lack of a home, in the form of a patch of land inherited from my family with the marks everywhere of my ancestors’ work. A farm, I suppose, which is nothing but a worked garden. Land with real trees and a wet stream and fields moving in real winds. Modernity needs mobility. And the price is home.
“God-making” amid anxiety is a standard human procedure!”
– Walter Breuggemann, in Sabbath As Resistance
“Prosperity breeds amnesia.”
– Walter Brueggemann, in Sabbath As Resistance