I Think It Mercy

The first flowers of Spring 2021 in our yard.

Spring

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as spring–
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.–Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.


Spring has sprung in Minnesota and with it the smells and sounds and sights of green and growing things.  We had a gentle rain this week and grass overnight turned emerald green.  On most lakes the ice is out and our world is turning phases, from solid to liquid.  I am eager to get some dirt under my finger nails, rake up the detritus of winter and allow the recent rains to soak in and get the spring flowers growing. 

There have been many poets who have used the sonnet form as a spiritual medium, to let their minds wander into the sublime, beyond the boundaries of human love and into the infinite.   Both Donne and Hopkins used their poetry as testaments to God, but in doing so reaffirmed their very human relationship with nature and in their eyes its manifestation God’s love in nurturing all life on earth.   In this way, Christianity and Buddhism share some common themes, in that we are all manifestations of God’s (Buddha’s) consciousness and yet, as Donne reminds us, it is in the forgetting, at least in the forgetting of the worst of ourselves,  that we are best remembered.


If Poisonous Minerals, And If That Tree

by John Donne

If poisonous minerals, and if that tree
Whose fruit threw death on else immortal us,
If lecherous goats, if serpents envious
Cannot be damn’d, alas, why should I be?
Why should intent or reason, born in me,
Make sins, else equal, in me more heinous?
And mercy being easy, and glorious
To God, in his stern wrath why threatens he?
But who am I, that dare dispute with thee,
O God? Oh, of thine only worthy blood
And my tears, make a heavenly Lethean flood,
And drown in it my sins’ black memory.
That thou remember them, some claim as debt;
I think it mercy, if thou wilt forget.