Friday, June 29, 2007

Numinous, again

I was asked by a friend to share Arthur Naiman's beautiful poem again, in the context of the classic poem that he was responding to by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It was my privilege to meet Arthur at a writer's group in Tucson. He is an extraordinary journalist, activist, and poet, and I'm grateful to him for sharing "Contra Hopkins" with me.

Pied Beauty
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh fire-coal chestnut falls; finches wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Contra Hopkins
by Arthur Naiman

(A response to Pied Beauty, in the same style and form)

The world does not need God for us to praise it—
Its beauty aches inside our jagged loins.
Lightning that tears the sky to show the hot white light behind;
The crannied, riddled earth; the colors that emblaze it;
A jumble of two pulses unthinking passion joins;
Healing from the taproot, redemption of the blind.

Blood like holy water shrouds each birth;
Fish amid the coral like random, sparkling coins;
Waves that curl and sputter; the forest veined and lined;
The earth is all the grace we need on earth:
Embrace what’s kind.

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