Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Comfort of Carrion (After Gerald Manley Hopkins)

Carrion Comfort by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Carrion Comforts by Simon Bucher-Jones

Lacking a God (what God?) to wrestle in night’s crepid hours
I must perforce find hope in carrion, in all of earth’s decay
Our bodies, lives, loves, intellect, all that’s ours – must pass away
Depair is the strong sea, that at our sand-built towers
Washs and laps, ‘til ramparts, bailey, buttresses and bowers
All values and all merits, worth and powers, can not say nay
And yet, oh yet, we last, hold-fast, endure and not give way
As a single peak, sunlit aerie, out-tips from over-thunder’s lowers.

Once, I subdued all my decay to that bright, other, heaven-hope
But in the end unfrayed all weaves must part, and to their oakum fall
Though life to life entwist as each tight strand that binds a rope
Nothing is left, to show where once were, but the soft bird call
And on scattered wall, the brilliant lizardlimb, oh coloured calliope
Muse of the bright voice, steamhiss pinned, ending in wordless all.

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