Sacramental poet

On June 8, 1889, Gerard Manly Hopkins, S.J., Jesuit priest and poet died. None of his dense poems had been published while he was alive. In fact, for the first decade or so of his religious life he had given up writing. Only the death of several Franciscan sisters fleeing Germany reignited his will to write.

He had something of a melancholy personality, but his final words on his deathbed were “I am so happy.”

His poems have a deeply sacramental character, seeing the presence of God in all things. His poem “God’s Grandeur,” begins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
           It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil.

and ends with this invocation of the Holy Spirit

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
         World broods with warm breast and with ah!
               bright wings.

His poem “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” ends with this description of human life in Christ:

I say more: the just man justices;
           Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—

          Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
          To the Father through the features of men’s
             faces.

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