The Wreck of the Deutschland (Dec. 6, 7, 1875)

Original Text: 
The Later Poetic Manuscripts of Gerard Manley Hopkins in Facsimile, ed. Norman H. MacKenzie (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1991): 33-67 (B-text). PR 4803 H44A6 1991 Robarts Library
to the happy memory of five Francisan nuns,
exiles by the Falck Laws, drowned between
midnight & morning of December 7 [[1875]].
Part the first
1Thou mastering me
2  God! giver of breath and bread;
3World's strand, sway of the sea;
4  Lord of living & dead;
5    Thou hast bound bones & veins in me, fastened me flesh,
6  And after it álmost únmade, what with dread,
7    Thy doing: & dost thou touch me afresh?
8Over again I feel thy finger & find theé.
9I did say yes
10  O at lightning & lashed rod;
11Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
12  Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
13    Thou knowest the walls, altar & hour & night:
14  The swoon of a heart that the sweep & the hurl of thee trod
15    Hard down with a horror of height:
16And the midriff astrain with leaning of, laced with fire of stress.
17The frown of his face
18  Before me, the hurtle of hell
19Behind, where, where was a, where was a place?
20  I whirled out wings that spell
21    And fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the Host.
22  My heart, but you were dovewinged, I can tell,
23    Carrier-witted, I am bold to boast,
24To flash from the flame to the flame then, tower from the grace to the grace.
25I am soft sift
26  In an hourglass -- at the wall
27Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift,
28  And it crowds & it combs to the fall;
29    I steady as a water in a well, to a poise, to a pane,
30  But roped with, always, all the way down from the tall
31    Fells or flanks of the voel, a vein
32Of the gospel proffer, a pressure, a principle, Christ's gift.
33I kiss my hand
34  To the stars, lovely-asunder
35Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
36  Glow, glory in thunder;
37    Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
38  Since, tho' he is under the world's splendour & wonder,
39    His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
40For I greet him the days I meet him, & bless when I understand.
41Not out of his bliss
42  Springs the stress felt
43Nor first from heaven (and few know this)
44  Swings the stroke dealt --
45    Stroke & a stress that stars & storms deliver,
46  That guilt is hushed by, hearts are flushed by & melt --
47    But it rides time like riding a river
48(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable & miss).
49It dates from day
50  Of his going in Galilee;
51Warm-laid grave of a womb-life grey;
52  Manger, maiden's knee;
53    The dense & the driven Passion, & frightful sweat:
54  Thence the discharge of it, there its swelling to be,
55    Tho' felt before, though in high flood yet --
56What none would have known of it, only the heart, being hard at bay,
57Is out with it! Oh,
58  We lash with the best or worst
59Word last! How a lush-kept plush-capped sloe
60  Will, mouthed to flesh-burst,
61    Gush! -- flush the man, the being with it, sour or sweet,
62  Brim, in a flash, full! -- Hither then, last or first,
63    To hero of Calvary, Christ,'s feet --
64Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it -- men go.
65Be adored among men,
66  God, three-numberéd form;
67Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
68  Man's malice, with wrecking & storm.
69    Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
70  Thou art lightning & love, I found it, a winter & warm;
71    Father & fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
72Hast thy dark descending & most art merciful then.
73With an anvil-ding
74  And with fire in him forge thy will
75Or rather, rather then, stealing as Spring
76  Through him, melt him but master him still:
77    Whether át ónce, as once at a crash Paul,
78  Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
79    Make mercy in all of us, out of us all
80Mastery, but be adored, but be adored king.
Part the second
81"Some find me a sword; some
82  The flange & the rail; flame,
83Fang, or flood" goes Death on drum,
84  And storms bugle his fame.
85    But wé dréam we are rooted in earth -- Dust!
86  Flesh falls within sight of us, we, though our flower the same,
87    Wave with the meadow, forget that there must
88The sour scythe cringe, & the blear share come.
89On Saturday sailed from Bremen,
90  American-outward-bound,
91Take settler & seamen, tell men with women,
92  Two hundred souls in the round --
93    O Father, not under thy feathers nor ever as guessing
94  The goal was a shoal, of a fourth the doom to be drowned;
95    Yet díd the dark side of the bay of thy blessing
96Not vault them, the million of rounds of thy mercy not reeve even them in?
97Into the snows she sweeps,
98  Hurling the haven behind,
99The Deutschland, on Sunday; & so the sky keeps,
100  For the infinite air is unkind,
101    And the sea flint-flake, black-backed in the regular blow,
102  Sitting Eastnortheast, in cursed quarter, the wind;
103    Wiry & white-fiery & whírlwind-swivellèd snow
104Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps.
105She drove in the dark to leeward,
106  She struck -- not a reef or a rock
107But the combs of a smother of sand: night drew her
108  Dead to the Kentish Knock;
109    And she beat the bank down with her bows & the ride of her keel:
110  The breakers rolled on her beam with ruinous shock?
111    And canvass & compass, the whorl & the wheel
112Idle for ever to waft her or wind her with, these she end{~u}red.
113Hope had grown grey hairs,
114  Hope had mourning on,
115Trenched with tears, carved with cares,
116  Hope was twelve hours gone;
117    And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day
118  Nor rescue, only rocket & light ship, shone,
119    And lives at last were washing away:
120To the shrouds they took, -- they shook in the hurling & horrible airs.
121One stirred from the rigging to save
122  The wild woman-kind below,
123With a rope's end round the man, handy & brave --
124  He was pitched to his death at a blow,
125    For all his dreadnought breast & braids of thew:
126  They could tell him for hours, dandled the to & fro
127    Through the cobbled foam-fleece. What could he do
128With the burl of the fountains of air, buck & the flood of the wave?
129They fought with God's cold --
130  And they could not & fell to the deck
131(Crushed them) or water (and drowned them) or rolled
132  With the sea-romp over the wreck.
133    Night roared, with the heart-break hearing a heart-broke rabble,
134  The woman's wailing, the crying of child without check --
135    Till a lioness arose breasting the babble,
136A prophetess towered in the tumult, a virginal tongue told.
137Ah, touched in your bower of bone
138  Are you! turned for an exquisite smart,
139Have you! make words break from me here all alone,
140  Do you! -- mother of being in me, heart.
141    O unteachably after evil, but uttering truth,
142  Why, tears! is it? tears; such a melting, a madrigal start!
143    Never-eldering revel & river of youth,
144What can it be, this glee? the good you have there of your own?
145Sister, a sister calling
146  A master, her master & mine! --
147And the inboard seas run swirling & hawling?
148  The rash smart sloggering brine
149    Blinds her; but shé that weather sees óne thing, one;
150  Has óne fetch ín her: she rears herself to divine
151    Ears, & the call of the tall nun
152To the men in the tops & the tackle rode over the storm's brawling.
153She was first of a five & came
154  Of a coifèd sisterhood.
155(O Deutschland, double a desperate name!
156  O world wide of its good!
157    But Gertrude, lily, & Luther, are two of a town,
158  Christ's lily & beast of the waste wood:
159    From life's dawn it is drawn down,
160Abel is Cain's brother and breasts they have sucked the same.)
161Loathed for a love men knew in them,
162  Banned by the land of their birth,
163Rhine refused them, Thames would ruin them;
164  Surf, snow, river & earth
165    Gnashed: but thou art above, thou Orion of light;
166  Thy unchancelling poising palms were weighing the worth,
167    Thou martyr-master: in th{'y} sight
168Storm flakes were scroll-leaved flowers, lily showers -- sweet heaven was astrew in them.
169Five! the finding & sake
170  And cipher of suffering Christ.
171Mark, the mark is of man's make
172  And the word of it Sacrificed.
173    But he scores it in scarlet himself on his own bespoken,
174  Before-time-taken, dearest prizèd & priced --
175    Stigma, signal, cinquefoil token
176For lettering of the lamb's fleece, ruddying of the rose-flake.
177Joy fall to thee, father Francis,
178  Drawn to the life that died;
179With the gnarls of the nails in thee, niche of the lance, his
180  Lovescape crucified
181    And seal of his seraph-arrival! & these thy daughters
182  And five-livèd & leavèd favour & pride,
183    Are sisterly sealed in wild waters,
184To bathe in his fall-gold mercies, to breathe in his all-fire glances.
185Away in the loveable west,
186  On a pastoral forehead of Wales,
187I was under a roof here, I was at rest,
188  And they the prey of the gales;
189    She to the black-about air, to the breaker, the thickly
190  Falling flakes, to the throng that catches and quails
191    Was calling "O Christ, Christ, come quickly":
192The cross to her she calls Christ to her, christens her wildworst Best.
193The majesty! what did she mean?
194  Breathe, arch & original Breath.
195Is it lóve in her of the béing as her lóver had béen?
196  Breathe, body of lovely Death.
197    They were else-minded then, altogether, the men
198  Wóke thee with a we are périshing in the wéather of Gennésaréth.
199    Or ís it that she cried for the crown then,
200The keener to come at the comfort for feeling the combating keen?
201For how to the heart's cheering
202  The down-dugged ground-hugged grey
203Hovers off, the jay-blue heavens appearing
204  Of pied & peeled May!
205    Blue-beating & hoary-glow height; or night, still higher,
206  With belled fire & the moth-soft Milky way,
207    What by your measure is the heaven of desire,
208The treasure never eyesight got, nor was ever guessed what for the hearing?
209Nó, but it was nót these.
210  The jading & jar of the cart,
211Time's tásking, it is fathers that asking for ease
212  Of the sodden-with-its-sorrowing heart,
213    Not danger, electrical horror; then further it finds
214  The appealing of the Passion is tenderer in prayer apart:
215    Other, I gather, in measure her mind's
216Burden, in wind's burly & beat of endragonèd seas.
217But how shall I . . . make me room there:
218  Reach me a ... Fancy, come faster --
219Strike you the sight of it? look at it loom there,
220  Thing that she ... There then! the Master,
221    Ipse, the only one, Christ, King, Head:
222  He was to cure the extremity where he had cast her;
223    Do, deal, lord it with living & dead;
224Let him ride, her pride, in his triumph, despatch & have done with his doom there.
225Ah! there was a heart right!
226  There was single eye!
227Read the unshapeable shock night
228  And knew the who & the why;
229    Wording it how but by him that present & past,
230  Heaven & earth are word of, worded by? --
231    The Simon Peter of a soul! to the blast
232Tárpéían-fast, but a blown beacon of light.
233Jesu, heart's light,
234  Jesu, maid's son,
235What was the feast followed the night
236  Thou hadst glory of this nun? --
237    Féast of the óne wóman withóut stáin.
238  For so conceivèd, so to conceive thee is done;
239    But here was heart-throe, birth of a brain,
240Word, that heard & kept thee & uttered thee óutríght.
241Well, shé has thée for the pain, for the
242  Patience: but pity of the rest of them!
243Heart, go & bleed at a bitterer vein for the
244  Comfortless unconfessed of them --
245    No not uncomforted: lovely-felicitous Providence
246  Fínger of a ténder of, O of a féathery délicacy, the bréast of the
247    Maiden could obey so, be a bell to, ring óf it, and
248Startle the poor sheep back! is the shipwrack then a harvest, does tempest carry the grain for thee?
249I admire thee, master of the tides,
250  Of the Yore-flood, of the year's fall;
251The recurb & the recovery of the gulf's sides,
252  The girth of it & the wharf of it & the wall;
253    Staunching, quenching ocean of a motionable mind;
254  Ground of being, & granite of it: pást áll
255    Grásp Gód, thróned behínd
256Death with a sovereignty that heeds but hides, bodes but abides;
257With a mercy that outrides
258  The all of water, an ark
259For the listener; for the lingerer with a love glides
260  Lower than death & the dark;
261    A vein for the visiting of the past-prayer, pent in prison,
262  The-last-breath penitent spirits -- the uttermost mark
263    Our passion-plungèd giant risen,
264The Christ of the Father compassionate, fetched in the storm of his strides.
265Now burn, new born to the world,
266  Doubled-naturèd name,
267The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
268  Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame,
269    Mid-numberèd he in three of the thunder-throne!
270  Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;
271    Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
272A released shówer, let flásh to the shíre, not a líghtning of fíre hard-húrled.
273Dame, at our door
274  Drówned, & among oúr shóals,
275Remember us in the roads, the heaven-haven of the reward:
276  Our Kíng back, Oh, upon énglish sóuls!
277    Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east,
278  More brightening her, rare-dear Britain, as his reign rolls,
279    Pride, rose, prince, hero of us, high-priest,
280Our héarts' charity's héarth's fíre, our thóughts' chivalry's thróng's Lórd.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1996-2000.