November 23 – a late November poem from G M Hopkins
Who knows what intuition led 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 do daily burdens define the person. Our campus is approaching final exams; lots of hard work and lots of worn down students, faculty, and staff. This afternoon’s low-in-the-sky sun, pale & delicate can anoint our fatigue.
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 to startle your imagination and make you smile.
Welcome to Thanksgiving week,
john st 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