Keeps Goings Graces

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins


We are more than simple flash of wing or clarion ring~
We are imaged in God’s eye, imagined and brought to life,
We are His own retinal reflection
upon His creation,
ten thousand times ten thousand.

We are created lovely,
so much more
than light and sound~
inscaped, steeped
in justice and sanctity~
keeps all his goings graces
featured in His face, our faces
as seen through His eyes.

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

2 thoughts on “Keeps Goings Graces

  1. I find Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry sometimes difficult to interpret, but then I find that is true for many Victorian and Jesuit writers. For the past few years I have begun to read and enjoy poetry. I have a dear friend who writes, and is a student of, poetry to whom I occasionally ask for help in interpretation. I have discovered that it is probably the most intimate style of writing in that poets seem to reach down into their very souls, laying them bare, in order to express their thoughts and feelings. It takes a special kind of person to risk doing that — to make one’s own self so vulnerable.

    In the excerpt of Hopkins’ Kingfisher in today’s posting, the words, “…what I do is me: for that I came.” is quite clear and most profound; it needs no interpretation.

    Emily, your interpretation of this poem has helped me greatly to understand what Hopkins was saying. Especially, your line, “We are His own retinal reflection upon His creation, ten thousand times ten thousand.” It is inclusive in its meaning and makes the whole poem make sense.
    Thank you!

    May our Risen Savior, the Cosmic Christ, continue to bless you in your outreach ministry.


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