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.

John Montague

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