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Gerard Manley Hopkins

(28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889 / Stratford, Essex)

The Handsome Heart


at a Gracious Answer


‘But tell me, child, your choice; what shall I buy
You?’—‘Father, what you buy me I like best.’
With the sweetest air that said, still plied and pressed,
He swung to his first poised purport of reply.

What the heart is! which, like carriers let fly—
Doff darkness, homing nature knows the rest—
To its own fine function, wild and self-instressed,
Falls light as ten years long taught how to and why.

Mannerly-hearted! more than handsome face—
Beauty’s bearing or muse of mounting vein,
All, in this case, bathed in high hallowing grace…

Of heaven what boon to buy you, boy, or gain
Not granted?—Only … O on that path you pace
Run all your race, O brace sterner that strain!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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