“Hurrahing in Harvest” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

This Friday is the first day of fall, so naturally, the literature blogs and poetry Twitter are going all out with the autumnal poems. Keats’s “To Autumn” deservedly gets a lot of praise, but my favorite fall poem is one I discovered just recently, Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “Hurrahing in Harvest.”

Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks rise
     Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
     Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
     Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
     And éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
     Majestic – as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! –
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
     Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart réars wíngs bold and bolder
     And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

The poet Tiana Clark wrote (on Twitter), “Poems are bodies that remind us of our bodies.” I like that, but what I really like is for a poem to remind me not just of my body, but of my whole person—my spirit as well as my body. Hopkins can do that.

{PD-1923}

Hopkins, of course, is well-known for poems that use the beauty of nature to point to a benevolent and all-powerful Creator, suggesting that beauty only exists in the world because God loves us and chooses to favor us with it. What I love about this poem is how Hopkins pushes us beyond mere intellectual acknowledgment of this spiritual reality by invoking bodily experience. God’s love, as demonstrated through the beauty of autumn, is compared to a look or a greeting from a lover, and found to be “realer” and “rounder” than what is perceived by the senses. The hills are identified as Christ’s “world-wielding shoulder,” reminding us that Jesus too had a body, whose destruction and resurrection brought about our salvation. And finally, when the riches of God’s love begin to dawn on this speaker, he is so overcome that he feels as if the very earth under his feet has been taken away. By bringing this spiritual wisdom to us in such physical terms, Hopkins challenges us to think of God not just in abstract, but as a real, living presence, as much apart of the world around us as the hills, the trees, and our own bodies.

3 thoughts on ““Hurrahing in Harvest” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

  1. What a lovely poem to welcome fall! I’ve recently come to accept that fall is my favorite season, not winter, and I’m so looking forward to this one. If the temps will ever cool off for us — it’s been in the 80s still so far. But I hear cooler temps are coming!

    Thanks for posting this. I’d not read it before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love fall too. I hadn’t read this poem myself until a few weeks ago, when I saw it quoted on another blog and thought, “Huh, the exact poem that’s been missing from my life.” 🙂

      Like

Leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Is this just fantasy?

I love the movies, which is why I like to blame them for everything.

Citations orthodoxes

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

#womensart ♀

Celebrating women's art and creativity

The Blonde at the Film

a fresh look at old films

Patrick Nabarro

Writer, Cinephile

Slices of Cake

watchin' all the movies, drinkin' all the smoothies (WARNING: all entries SPOILER-HEAVY)

Celluloid Wicker Man

Reviews, Essays and Analysis of Film and Art By Adam Scovell

My Crash Course

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

Self-Styled Siren

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

Jasmine L Holmes

Become Known & Loved

The Sheila Variations

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

Carrots for Michaelmas

Cultivating a Catholic family through literature, liturgical living, and urban homesteading

Cinema Sojourns

Time Tripping Through the World of Film

Knowledge Lost

An Endless Pursuit of Knowledge

The Motion Pictures

Lindsey D.'s ramblings on the moving image!

FatherJustinsBlog

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

DevenirPolyglotte

Suivez-moi au monde des langues!

Consulting Philologist

The Website and Blog of Dr. Matthew Scarborough

%d bloggers like this: