Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Father's Rod

Written on reading The Beginning and the End by G.M. Hopkins, particularly the last lines:

Of a bygone age

Ah! well more than a hundred years past might
that poet Gerard Manley Hopkins write
about a boy who, poring over verse,
finds his enjoyment soured, his pleasure worse;
his was an age in which good discipline
showed children’s minds a world to wonder in:
the gentle drawing of the shepherd’s crook
led hungry souls to pasture in the book.
Now in this age of trickery of lights,
endless pursuits, deaths, loves, powers, turns, and flights,
the Father’s rod unblossoming lies between
the dead twigs of our youth before the screen.
The words that stood as beacons, stirred our blood,
drift now like useless flotsam in a flood;
writs of the passions of an ordered age
have come untexted. Even on this page
I made my own irrelevance still worse
using an eighteenth-century mode of verse.
Where is the able poet who will write
in present words a hundred years’ past might?

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