Sept 26 — G. M. Hopkins — “The Caged Skylark”

Posted on November 27, 2017

Wednesday September 26   —  “Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells”

Sun after an epic deluge reminds me of things I love about living in the heart of the Great Lakes, from torrents to an afternoon that invites me to look out my open window and taste the stillness that flows from beauty in the sky.  Still, we have not yet turned the corner of a work week that can wear us ordinary people down,   half way into a work week sometimes wears, even grinds.   Perhaps that’s what brought G. M. Hopkins to this metaphor: a skylark’s wild explosions of energy and what happens when all that free spirit gets caged — skylark caged, a human being caged, “day-laboring-out life’s age.”

The cage does not define the lark, nor the daily burdens define the person.  A reminder:  it helps when reading Hopkins, to give his word play a practice run until you get the cadences right and until you give his word choices a chance startle your imagination and make you smile.

Three good surprises today?  Sure.   Have a blest week.


john sj


Today’s Post:  “The Caged Skylark”

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage

Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells—

That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;

This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.


Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,

Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,

Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells

Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.


Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest—

Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,

But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.


Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,

But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed

For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.

G. M. Hopkins, sj   1844-1889

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