Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Patience" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

PATIENCE, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
  Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,     
Nowhere. Natural heart’s ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.
  We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills     
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
  And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness?—He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.

Hopkins's poetry is so thick. No word is wasted; every one is so necessary. Patience is a virtue, we're told, but have you ever thought of it as a mat of ivy, covering over and concealing all the things you've lost in life, all the hopes unrealized? Patience thrives in disappointment. Her roots are happy in the soil of affliction and loss. The patient person is slowly filling the chambers of his heart with honey, with sweetness. 
A bruised heart is a gentle heart.

For more Hopkins, here's a link to a website with his poetry.
If you've only read a few of his poems for literature class, I'd recommend reading more.
Spend an hour or so browsing through, and see which ones you like.


  1. Well that has to be the most inspiring and comforting explanation of why patience is a virtue and not a torment.I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to scream, "I'm sick and tired of being patient." What beautiful imagery, and the pictures too. Lovely, and thank you.

  2. That's why I picked it to share here, Melissa. Patience is usually such a torture, as you say, but it produces such quality of character. BIG sigh. I wish there were another way to develop character. I like Hopkins, but I have to read the poem over and over, to find out what he's trying to say. :)


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