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Poetry

Sunday Sonnet

There is a false humility, mentioned in this morning’s service. It is moving the discipline of the body beyond that which keeps us useful and fit to a point a punishment, and then having a pride in that punishment. I am not talking about perversions, nor being a competitor, which (at the peak point of competition) finds you unbalanced.

I am talking about having a pride in your regulations and restrictions, to the point where that is your hope, not Christ. True humility is accepting your place in creation, and that you do not know why you are in this season.

But you trust the one who does.

Hopkins knew this.

‘My own heart’

My own heart let me more have pity on; let
Me live to my sad self hereafter kind,
Charitable; not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet.

I cast for comfort I can no more get
By groping round my comfortless than blind
Eyes in their dark can day or thrist can find
Thirst’s all-in-all in all a world of wet

Soul, self; come, poor Jackself, I do advise
You, jaded, lét be; call off thoughts awhile
Elsewhere; leave comfort root-room; let joy size

At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile
‘S not wrung, see you; unforseentimes rather – as skies
Betweenpie mountains – lights a lovely mile.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

There are only two options at this point: turn to God, repent, or double down and be damned. Hopkins turned to God, not knowing the end. I am less sure about Pound, though he knew pride was a trap.

From Canto LXXXI

“Master thyself, then others shall thee beare”
Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst’ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
I say pull down.

Ezra Pound

A man should know his limitations, but the pride we have in our spiritual development and theological skill can and will make us stumble. Put, instead, down our vanity, and forswear our pride.

Perhaps, then, if you do, you will understand what Hopkins was writing about.

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