Heaven-Haven Poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins


Rating: 3.0

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

Michael Pruchnicki 01 April 2010

Whenever I see a poem posted on this site written by a clegyman or a Christian mystic, I anticipate a response from the village atheist as he goes door to door peddling his noxious wares! Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. was both priest and poet, a gifted writer and a devout believer in a faith that demanded a strong will and the ability to persevere. Of course, one can read Hopkins or Shakespeare and utter as commentary 'So! ? ' What does 'Heaven-Haven' mean to those smug atheists who can sit back and wave a languid wrist at someone who puts his beliefs in well-chosen words the way Father Hopkins does? The adjectives are few and far between. I count fewer than a baker's dozen - sharp and sided, a few, a green swell in havens dumb, Not one syllable more than is absolutely necessary to evoke the sensuous imagery of a stormy green day in the highlands with the implied comfort of that 'heaven-haven' the speaker desires. Perhaps it's true as Fiona writes that such yearning is universal, but take note how well Hopkins embodies that abstract longing in vivid language!

10 6 Reply
Mark Lilly 01 July 2018

As one of your 'noxious' atheists - good example of christian tolerance there - I can at least say that I am not complicit in the oceans of blood and centuries of cruelty with which supernaturalists have made this planet wretched.

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I Wilcox 10 October 2018

How sad! For atheist read humanist, and we humanists have wide sympathies that allow us to be moved by this and other poems of Hopkins, as by much other religious art, without it making any inroads whatever on our agnosticism. You, with your mean and narrow outlook, would have difficulty understanding that.

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Cossard 11 September 2019

If this beautiful evocation of the peaceful and contemplative life leads you to indulge in bitter spiteful ranting about atheists you may have missed the point.

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Juan Olivarez 01 April 2011

You're gonna wait a long time Jason he's been dead for over a hundred years.

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Kumarmani Mahakul 25 November 2023

And I have asked to be Where no storms come, .......well said. Nicely executed poem. Thanks a lot 🙏

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Chinedu Dike 20 September 2019

Really a poignant rendition elegantly brought forth with spiritual insight................

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Maureen P 06 October 2018

I always believed this poem to be about a nun taking her vows. It moves me greatly. But then, I AM Irish.

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JA Marshall-Owens 28 March 2018

It is appallingly badly read by someone who has a tin ear - Hopkins deserves better.

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Val A. 25 December 2017

A sad poem. Simple yes, but carries the despair and the poet's depression. Verbs used 'desired' and 'asked' indicate a high level of low humour. The need to go to heaven. Sometimes simplicity illustrates genius.

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