Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I've been finding stray bits of information here and there about Thanksgiving - or giving Thanks or Gathering Day.  It seems that everyone seems to have a day of Thanksgiving which I find positive.  Generally I get a random thought and then things start popping up - what Carl Jung called synchronicity. Because of all the thoughts on giving Thanks I found myself wandering around getting distracted from actual artwork this week.

 I started rereading some poetry which is actually slow going for me. Often I get lost in the rhythm and rhyme of the thing and lose the trains of thought.  (It's why I read them out loud in the bathtub - I do better hearing it.) One of the poems I thought to include here today even though it's not particularly a Thanksgiving poem.  (Well, I think for me it is.)

It's by Gerald Manley Hopkins,(1844-1889) a British poet who converted to Roman Catholicism, studying to become  a Jesuit priest which caused him a considerable amount of conflicting feelings about his poetry, himself and his beliefs. After reading of the death of 5 nuns aboard a ship he began writing again but his poems weren't released until after his death in 1889.  He is most famous for what is called sprung rhythm.

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.


He's unique in that he's considered a modern poet because of this sprung rhythm which is closer to Anglo-Saxon and early English poetry rather than the structured meter in regular poetry.  It has to do with the stress of the first syllable of a foot.  Hopkins was strongly attracted to language and studied Old English, considering it a vast improvement to the more modern polyglot language.  He also was influenced by Welsh poetry with it's use of similar sounds, the same sound repeating several times in a line.  His poetry is best when read out loud (great bath tub reading for me).

Most of Hopkins work was published after his dead by his best friend Robert Bridges, who was poet laureate of England.  The few poems that exist before the Jesuit days seemed to have been saved by Bridges.  Hopkins had sent them to him. 
So that is my Thanksgiving gift to you - May you find joy in what is around you.

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