Hopkins in Dublin
POEM:After reading Father Hopkins
– his Terrible Sonnets –
I listen to the Blues,
a bittersweet voice rising
over a vivid trumpet,
a shuddering saxophone;
salvoes of sadness,
replenishing the soul.
And imagine our delicate priest
hearkening to these bodily rhythms,
these moonshine harmonies,
perhaps stirred to dance,
or at least to shuffle,
swaying his cassock
around his spartan bedroom.
Gerard, are you grieving,
over Stephen’s Green unleaving?
Things were hard for you in Dublin,
a shy John Bull among Fenians,
constantly ragged about politics;
uproar in the classrooms: “the great,
very great, drudgery of examinations.”
But you spent your last Christmas
beside “the burling Barrow brown”.
And I have climbed to your room
in 86 St Stephen’s Green,
lofty and lonely, but blessed
with a view of the Iveagh Gardens,
the plum-soft Dublin mountains.
Enniskerry, the Scalp,
the Powerscourt Waterfall,
the white cone of the Sugarloaf
(where, aflush with your poetry,
I dallied with a girl): Why
did you never inscape them?
And in a summersunny Phoenix Park
you laughed when a cricketer cried,
as he struck a boundary,
Arrah, sweet meself. As now
we cherish your boundary-breaking gift.