Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mid-morning, mid-lent, and I hurry off to take part in a discussion of the Book of Mark, and his telling of the trial and crucifiction of Christ, the Lord.

As usual my thoughts are not confined only to the telling, but as the discussion encompasses the possibilities of Free Will being constrained by Pre-Destination, and as we consider the human side of Christ's suffering, (in particular as it relates to the suffering of humanity) there steals into my mind the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. And I am reminded also of the beauty and alliteration in the lines of Dylan Thomas that so resemble Hopkin's masterful and musical use of language.

We talked about Eden, before the Tree of Knowledge opened the possibility of choices and free will, (was Peter's denial of Christ predestined, or had he a choice?). We talked about experience and the loss of innocence.... and I thought about Fern Hill.

How it mirrors the story of Eden, - the idyllic period before the Tree of Knowledge "when I was young and green" until the fall from grace.

And mankind (well, womenkind too) must now take responsibility for the choices they make, and are driven as well by "the force that through the green fuse drives" all life from the carefree days of childhood to the inevitable "crooked worm".

As well as comparing the suffering of Christ to the suffering of humanity I was reminded of the Hopkin's poem about the Windhover, dedicated to Christ Our Lord and how he compares the beauty of the Windhover in flight (in that captivating beautiful phraseology) as being a billion times less lovely than the fire that breaks from the Spirit and Word of Christ.

Since we left the Garden we can achieve beauty through sheer plodding and faithfulness, but the "gash gold-vermilion" that flows from the wound in Christ's side makes any beauty and greatness we achieve infinitesimal beside the self sacrifice of the crucification.

What a beautifully descriptive poem this is, packed with verbs and adjectives, and in the mind's eye, watch, watch how the Windhover expresses its joy in flight.

The Windhover:
To Christ Our Lord

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird -- the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

I have a recording of Gerard Manley Hopkin's poems, read by Cyril Cusack and I am going to play it once more at the very first opportunity.......with my eyes closed.

The Windhover - read on YouTube