Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frederick Buechner on Gerard Manley Hopkins

I found Hughes too depressing, so I put it down. And picked up Frederick Buechner's Speak What We Feel. When I was fifteen, my pastor introduced me to Buechner with the gift of a book by Buechner when my pastor confirmed me. In this text off my mom's shelf, Buechner discusses 4 writers who affected him - Gerard Manley Hopkins, Mark Twain, C.K. Chesterton and Shakespeare. I know my mom's favorite poet was Hopkins.

The introduction talks about the process of writing (opening the vein). Buechner:

"What brings them together here is that in at least one work apiece, it seems to me, each of them wrote in his own blood about the darkness of life as he found it and about how for better or worse he managed somehow to survive it, even to embrace it - Hopkins in the 'terrible sonnets' of his final years...It is at the very end of King Lear, in fact, that the Duke of Albany says, 'The weight of this sad time we must obey,/Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say," and that seems to me to be precisely what Shakespeare himself did in writing this greatest of all his plays and what in their own entirely different ways the other three did after him."

Now I may know be able to discern why Hopkins was my mother's favorite poet. I think I may take this book back with me to DC. I'd like to feel (not understand - that may be asking too much) how to embrace life's darkness, how to turn sadness into masterpieces of writing, even, or simply how to bear the weight as a lighter yoke.

It's Tuesday, September 11, 2007. The day is grey and full of thunder in New Jersey. A contrast in weather to the bright blue of that other Tuesday, September 11.

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