01 June 2007

June Poem of the Month

I've been writing in counterpoint with Gerard Manley Hopkins these days, trying to imitate some of his rhythms and consonances. So here's a bit of an exercise after reading his "Spring"
(which you can find here).

With what kind of body

The seed is tilled in, tended, and dead.
Brown shelled, tiny, a round naught, smooth spot
on the palm and then gone, ah well.
A million fellows fall through fingers
and die on rough dirt where they hide. Until spring.

And the thing they are born to some warm morn
we could sing to, so peach-yellow, sea-pink,
and thin rich green seems it, too thick in the field
to be trundled in arms full, bundled in waves
where the wind dares to tumble. Trebled
in texture, thrice trebled in sight and in sweetness
to sense: see what a seed comes to,
see what death has done now!

What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be,
but just a seed, perhaps of what or of something else.

—I Corinthians 15:36b-37


gymbrall said...

This is beautiful!! One small question, critique, in the next to last line, "to sense" seems to conflict with the declaration that follows, as if we are not so much sensing as saying, if that makes sense.

Anyway, thanks for posting this.

Iambic Admonit said...

Thanks for your comment, gymbrall. You would be right if the grammar supported your reading; however, since the lines are enjambed, you should read it like this: "Trebled in texture, in sight, and in sweetness to sense [i.e., sensory sweetness]." So "to sense" is an adjective phrase (maybe a bit clumsy in the syntax there? but Hopkins likes those inversions), not a verb. See?

gymbrall said...

Ah, got it! Slightly embarrassed...

Take care,

Iambic Admonit said...

No, don't be embarrassed. My slippery syntax is as much to blame as anything.