A Tribute to GraciousnessThe Handsome Heart:
at a Gracious Answer
'But tell me, child, your choice; what shall I buy
You?' 'Father, what you buy me I like best.'
With the sweetest air that said, still plied and pressed,
He swung to his first poised purport of reply.
What the heart is! which, like carriers let fly
Doff darkness, homing nature knows the rest
To its own fine function, wild and self-instressed,
Falls light as ten years long taught how to and why.
Mannerly-hearted! more than handsome face
Beauty's bearing or muse of mounting vein,
All, in this case, bathed in high hallowing grace . . .
Of heaven what boon to buy you, boy, or gain
Not granted! Only . . . O on that path you pace
Run all your race, O brace sterner that strain!
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 1889)
"G.M.H. called this sonnet 'autobiographical ... Last Lent two boys of our congregation gave me much help in the sacristy in Holy Week. I offered them money for their services, which the elder refused, but being pressed consented to take it laid out in a book. The younger followed suit; then when some days after I asked him what I shd. buy answered as in the sonnet.' ... Line 7, self-instressed, moved by its own natural impulse, i.e., towards the Good." (from Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Selection of His Poems and Prose, W.H. Gardner (ed.), Penguin Books, 1953, pp. 228.229.)