Icy Inscape

17 Jan 2024 | Believers | 0 comments

The times are nightfall, look, their light grows less;

The times are winter, watch, a world undone;

They waste, they wither worse; they as they run

Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress,

And I not help….


Hope holds to Christ the mind’s own mirror out

To take His lovely likeness more and more….


Her glass is blest but she as good as blind

Holds till her hand aches and wonders what is there;

Her glass drinks light, she darkles down behind,

All of her glorious gainings unaware.


I told you that she turned her mirror dim

Betweenwhiles, but she sees herself not Him.


The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889),  Oxford University Press, 1967, Numbers 150 &151, pp. 186-187.

Notes from the Compiler

Manley Hopkins believed human beings have an 'inscape' as well as an 'outlook'! He described 'the war within, the brand we wield unseen.' But he also recognised the dangers of too much self-reference. In this poem he sees that a distinction has to be made between self-preoccupation and Christ-centeredness, what he describes elsewhere as 'the Life that died' and 'Lovescape crucified.' Self-contemplation is the danger signalled here. It is to darkle', an intransitive verb which means 'to lie concealed' or 'to grow dark.' S. Paul wrote hopefully: 'All of us with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.' (2 Corinthians 3:18).


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