Last night in our poetry reading group we spent the whole time on Gerard Manley Hopkins’, “The Wreck of the Deutschland“, inspired by a shipwreck in storm in which five Franciscan sisters were drowned. They were fleeing the kulturkampf in Germany to come to America, St. Louis, to teach. It is a difficult and rewarding poem.
St. Francis was mentioned. Here are two stanzas.
Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
Drawn to the Life that died;
With the gnarls of the nails in thee, niche of the lance, his
Lovescape crucified 180
And seal of his seraph-arrival! and these thy daughters
And five-livèd and leavèd favour and pride,
Are sisterly sealed in wild waters,
To bathe in his fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances.
Away in the loveable west, 185
On a pastoral forehead of Wales,
I was under a roof here, I was at rest,
And they the prey of the gales;
She to the black-about air, to the breaker, the thickly
Falling flakes, to the throng that catches and quails 190
Was calling ‘O Christ, Christ, come quickly’:
The cross to her she calls Christ to her, christens her wild-worst Best.