02 March 2009

Mellifluous Mondays: I'll Not Feast on Thee

"Carrion Comfort" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist -- slack they may be -- these last strands of man
In me or, most weary cry "I can no more." I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruised bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, cheer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

"I will not feast on despair." What a thought, that anyone would willingly consume such a miserable emotion. But we do. We like to have pity-parties and wallow in our sadness. It makes us feel important, dramatic, the center of the universe (even though it is a very unhappy center). We refuse to accept hope because it requires us to rely on God. Even if independence produces despair, we sinfully choose that over submission and peace.

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