Desmond Egan Poet Artistic Director

Hopkins in Ireland

a poem by Desmond Egan

This poem by poet Desmond Egan was first delivered on the centenary of the death of Victorian poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J., at his grave in Glasnevin Cemetary, Dublin June 8 th , 1989. Copyright 1990 by Desmond Egan. Published in a limited edition of 100 copies by Milestone Press/USA, June 1992

Hopkins in Ireland

Father Gerard at rest among you brethren
Almost anonymously as you would have wished
With only pebbles to pick out you five feet two

Your life the poetry water and wine
Have so real a presence since that we
Touch one touching the other
As we lay here in Glasnevin a 100 year garland
Lily and iris fro man and poem together
Elected silence! sing to me .
Summer ends now, now barbarous in beauty the stooks .
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving? And through lines you willed us we may glimpse
A face gone pale with thinking a head too big
For a build slight as Beckett's
The English fingers the unreachable
Melancholy of the artist
As we converge in tribute tour friend
An to your convert's almost medieval search for
Certainties none o us dare expect
Since we are all time's eunuchs -
Though you broke into wholeness at the end
And died like Simeon so happy
Now as I commune here with the maker
Of poems that will always make a difference
I see you at Monasterevin leaving the Victorian station
Black a black Jesuit suitcase some
Volume in hand a theme and
Walking slowly along the canal
Breathing-in the place the bog air
The 18 th Century the water above water
The rhythm of little Ireland opening lock gates
And smiling through shyness when old Miss Cassidy
Steps down to greet you opposite the very beeck
Where Father Prendergast was hanged in '98
Or genuflecting in surplice before the tabernacle
In the apse of SS. Peter and Paul's
As you carry a ciborium to the rail of faces
To distribute with unsteady hand you last Christmas
Or years earlier gone solemn among confreres
Tense with vocation sitting for a Clongowes photograph
Uneasy with any place of honour
Or looking out from a book
Mousy hair going grey now to study
That suddenness of Athlone from the Railway bridge
As you are trundled West
Or again on retreat at Rahan
Pacing your soutane trying to avoid conversation
With trees our midland cloud one blade of grass
And I can see your imprisoned stare from
That top storey window in the Newman House
Biting at a finger a black sonnet gnawing
And a scrawl another word for nobody
A desolate eye toward St. Stephen's Green
Martyr of silence wanting o so badly to turn
Weightless as a line to
Hover sweep fly free sink back
Into the infinite heavens
- Yet able to say Justus quidem tu es Domine
When living was plodding
Your steadying gaze has turned inspiration has
Uncovered the audience which you had
Hidden in the future where your mind lived
People like us who admire your indifference
Your quiet which pierces the empire of noise
To mould things into themselves
Your spirit darts through our human June.

Remembering Hopkins

Desmond Egan Bibliography

Review of Elegies by Desmond Egan

Hugh Kenner reviews Desmond Egan poetry

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