Dec 12, 2011 Epithalamion

Dear readers,
not much time for analysis today, alas, and the poem’s a damn good and long one. I can be assured that there will be at least one person who will read the entire thing, as it is dedicated to a long-time member who got engaged over the weekend. And strangely enough that individual is also the only member who I can say for sure is a G.M. Hopkins fan. I hit last night on the idea of printing an epithalamion today (a poem in celebration of marriage), and lo, Google helps me figure out that Hopkins wrote one in 1918. Had no idea. Hopkins is employing his usual trickery, his oddly-accented words, his funky syntax, his archaic knowledge, and his neologisms (“downdolphinry” is particularly pleasing to my ears). He’s also picking up on all the standard and very traditional hallmarks of epithalamia in English, from Spenser, who wrote the most famous one, to Milton, whose version is embedded within a book of his verse epic Paradise Lost. I wish I had a thing or two to say about form, rhyme, and meter here, but perhaps I’ll leave that to the experts. Have a good day. -ed.
EPITHALAMION
Hark, hearer, hear what I do; lend a thought now, make believe
We are leafwhelmed somewhere with the hood
Of some branchy bunchy bushybowered wood,
Southern dene or Lancashire clough or Devon cleave,
That leans along the loins of hills, where a candycoloured, where a gluegold-brown
Marbled river, boisterously beautiful, between
Roots and rocks is danced and dandled, all in froth and waterblowballs, down.
We are there, when we hear a shout
That the hanging honeysuck, the dogeared hazels in the cover
Makes dither, makes hover
And the riot of a rout
Of, it must be, boys from the town
Bathing: it is summer’s sovereign good.

By there comes a listless stranger: beckoned by the noise
He drops towards the river: unseen
Sees the bevy of them, how the boys
With dare and with downdolphinry and bellbright bodies huddling out,
Are earthworld, airworld, waterworld thorough hurled, all by turn and turn about.

This garland of their gambols flashes in his breast
Into such a sudden zest
Of summertime joys
That he hies to a pool neighbouring; sees it is the best
There; sweetest, freshest, shadowiest;
Fairyland; silk-beech, scrolled ash, packed sycamore, wild wychelm, hornbeam fretty overstood
By. Rafts and rafts of flake-leaves light, dealt so, painted on the air,
Hang as still as hawk or hawkmoth, as the stars or as the angels there,
Like the thing that never knew the earth, never off roots
Rose. Here he feasts: lovely all is! No more: off with—down he dings
His bleachèd both and woolwoven wear:
Careless these in coloured wisp
All lie tumbled-to; then with loop-locks
Forward falling, forehead frowning, lips crisp
Over finger-teasing task, his twiny boots
Fast he opens, last he offwrings
Till walk the world he can with bare his feet
And come where lies a coffer, burly all of blocks
Built of chancequarrièd, selfquainèd rocks
And the water warbles over into, filleted with glassy grassy quicksilvery shivès and shoots
And with heavenfallen freshness down from moorland still brims,
Dark or daylight on and on. Here he will then, here he will the fleet
Flinty kindcold element let break across his limbs
Long. Where we leave him, froliclavish while he looks about him, laughs, swims.
Enough now; since the sacred matter that I mean
I should be wronging longer leaving it to float
Upon this only gambolling and echoing-of-earth note—
What is … the delightful dene?
Wedlock. What the water? Spousal love.
……….
……….
Father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends
Into fairy trees, wild flowers, wood ferns
Rankèd round the bower
……….

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