When i was in Ireland a couple of years ago, I went to Glasnevin Cemetery, the burial ground of the fictional Paddy Dignam, as well as of Michael Collins, Charles Parnell, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins is buried in a Jesuit plot, his name just one of many on a list carved in stone. I first read Gerard Manley Hopkins, or at least I first remember reading him, as a senior in college, when my literary criticism professor, who was a nun, recommended him. I teach Hopkins in the survey. His poetry is not easy, but it is gorgeous. Students may not entirely get what he's doing, but I do think that they feel poetry move them in ways to which they aren't accustomed in reading him. So a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, one that somehow speaks to writing for me as much as for one's battle for one's immortal soul. And my apologies for not including the proper accents - I couldn't figure out easily how to format those in blogger :)
Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist - slack they may be - these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-earth right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruised bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?
Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, cheer.
Cheer whom though? The hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.
6 years ago