Hopkins poems of spiritual struggle are real, but our hope is not in our circumstances or how we feel. At times the earth is iron and the ground brass, and we are grinding mechanically through the habits of godliness, with not any sense of relief or spiritual power.
Such was Hopkins in Ireland. He had no golden tongue. He was mistrusted by the Irish, for he was not of them. He was diffident, shy, withdrawn. No one knew the brilliant poet of Oxford.
But the cliffs of the mind are delusion.
No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing —
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief.”‘
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
Gerard Manley Hopkins