NOT, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair
, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more.
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
devouring eyes my bruisèd 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, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
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.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Published (posthumously) 1918
Like all Hopkins poetry, this requires a little explanation. Hopkins was largely a religious poet, and here is no exception. The lion-limbed hero here is of course Christ and the poem is a cry to a Savior to violently redeem the speaker here.
Like other Hopkins poems, this should really be read aloud. Lines like "heaven-handling flung me" are such expressive and beautiful uses of language, and indicate why Hopkins deserves a rating as the most under-appreciated English language poet.
This poem was the final exam for my advanced placement English class in high school. The only question was "Tell me what this poem means." and it has stuck with me all these years. It is a warm comfort in cold times.