Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.
St. Winefred's Well
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
ACT I. SC. I
Enter Teryth from riding, Winefred following.
T. WHAT is it, Gwen, my girl? why do you hover and haunt me?
W. You came by Caerwys, sir?
T. I came by Caerwys.
Some messenger there might have met you from my uncle.
T. Your uncle met the messenger—met me; and this the message:
Lord Beuno comes to-night.
W. To-night, sir!
T. Soon, now: therefore
Have all things ready in his room.
W. There needs but little doing.
T. Let what there needs be done. Stay! with him one companion,
His deacon, Dirvan Warm: twice over must the welcome be,
But both will share one cell.—This was good news, Gwenvrewi.
W. Ah yes!
T. Why, get thee gone then; tell thy mother I want her.
No man has such a daughter. The fathers of the world
Call no such maiden ‘mine’. The deeper grows her dearness
And more and more times laces round and round my heart,
The more some monstrous hand gropes with clammy fingers there,
Tampering with those sweet bines, draws them out, strains them, strains them;
Meantime some tongue cries ‘What, Teryth! what, thou poor fond father!
How when this bloom, this honeysuckle, that rides the air so rich about thee,
Is all, all sheared away, thus!’ Then I sweat for fear.
Or else a funeral, and yet ’tis not a funeral,
Some pageant which takes tears and I must foot with feeling that
Alive or dead my girl is carried in it, endlessly
Goes marching thro’ my mind. What sense is this? It has none.
This is too much the father; nay the mother. Fanciful!
I here forbid my thoughts to fool themselves with fears.
. . . . . . . .
ACT II.—Scene, a wood ending in a steep bank over a dry dene, Winefred having been murdered within. Re-enter Caradoc with a bloody sword.
C. My heart, where have we been? What have we seen, my mind?
What stroke has Caradoc’s right arm dealt? what done? Head of a rebel
Struck off it has; written upon lovely limbs,
In bloody letters, lessons of earnest, of revenge;
Monuments of my earnest, records of my revenge,
On one that went against me wh?reas I had warned her—
Warned her! well she knew. I warned her of this work.
What work? what harm ’s done? There is no harm done, none yet;
Perhaps we struck no blow, Gwenvrewi lives perhaps;
To makebelieve my mood was—mock. O I might think so
But here, here is a workman from his day’s task sweats.
Wiped I am sure this was; it seems not well; for still,
Still the scarlet swings and dances on the blade.
So be it. Thou steel, thou butcher,
I c?n scour thee, fresh burnish thee, sheathe thee in thy dark lair; these drops
Never, never, never in their blue banks again.
The woeful, Cradock, O the woeful word! Then what,
What have we seen? Her head, sheared from her shoulders, fall,
And lapped in shining hair, roll to the bank’s edge; then
Down the beetling banks, like water in waterfalls,
It stooped and flashed and fell and ran like water away.
Her eyes, oh and her eyes!
In all her beauty, and sunlight to it is a pit, den, darkness,
Foam-falling is not fresh to it, rainbow by it not beaming,
In all her body, I say, no place was like her eyes,
No piece matched those eyes kept most part much cast down
But, being lifted, immortal, of immortal brightness.
Several times I saw them, thrice or four times turning;
Round and round they came and flashed towards heaven: O there,
There they did appeal. Therefore airy vengeances
Are afoot; heaven-vault fast purpling portends, and what first lightning
Any instant falls means me. And I do not repent;
I do not and I will not repent, not repent.
The blame bear who aroused me. What I have done violent
I have like a lion done, lionlike done,
Honouring an uncontrolled royal wrathful nature,
Mantling passion in a grandeur, crimson grandeur.
Now be my pride then perfect, all one piece. Henceforth
In a wide world of defiance Caradoc lives alone,
Loyal to his own soul, laying his own law down, no law nor
Lord now curb him for ever. O daring! O deep insight!
What is virtue? Valour; only the heart valiant.
And right? Only resolution; will, his will unwavering
Who, like me, knowing his nature to the heart home, nature’s business,
Despatches with no flinching. But will flesh, O can flesh
Second this fiery strain? Not always; O no no!
We cannot live this life out; sometimes we must weary
And in this darksome world what comfort can I find?
Down this darksome world c?mfort wh?re can I find
When ’ts light I quenched; its rose, time’s one rich rose, my hand,
By her bloom, fast by her fresh, her fleec?d bloom,
Hideous dashed down, leaving earth a winter withering
With no now, no Gwenvrewi. I must miss her most
That might have spared her were it but for passion-sake. Yes,
To hunger and not have, y?t hope ?n for, to storm and strive and
Be at every assault fresh foiled, worse flung, deeper disappointed,
The turmoil and the torment, it has, I swear, a sweetness,
Keeps a kind of joy in it, a zest, an edge, an ecstasy,
Next after sweet success. I am not left even this;
I all my being have hacked in half with her neck: one part,
Reason, selfdisposal, choice of better or worse way,
Is corpse now, cannot change; my other self, this soul,
Life’s quick, this k?nd, this k?en self-feeling,
With dreadful distillation of thoughts sour as blood,
Must all day long taste murder. What do n?w then? Do? Nay,
Deed-bound I am; one deed treads all down here cramps all doing. What do? Not yield,
Not hope, not pray; despair; ay, that: brazen despair out,
Brave all, and take what comes—as here this rabble is come,
Whose bloods I reck no more of, no more rank with hers
Than sewers with sacred oils. Mankind, that mobs, comes. Come!
Enter a crowd, among them Teryth, Gwenlo, Beuno.
. . . . . . . .
After Winefred’s raising from the dead and the breaking out of the fountain.
BEUNO. O now while skies are blue, now while seas are salt,
While rushy rains shall fall or brooks shall fleet from fountains,
While sick men shall cast sighs, of sweet health all despairing,
While blind men’s eyes shall thirst after daylight, draughts of daylight,
Or deaf ears shall desire that lipmusic that ’s lost upon them,
While cripples are, while lepers, dancers in dismal limb-dance,
Fallers in dreadful frothpits, waterfearers wild,
Stone, palsy, cancer, cough, lung wasting, womb not bearing,
Rupture, running sores, what more? in brief; in burden,
As long as men are mortal and God merciful,
So long to this sweet spot, this leafy lean-over,
This Dry Dene, now no longer dry nor dumb, but moist and musical
With the uproll and the downcarol of day and night delivering
Water, which keeps thy name, (for not in r?ck wr?tten,
But in pale water, frail water, wild rash and reeling water,
That will not wear a print, that will not stain a pen,
Thy venerable record, virgin, is recorded).
Here to this holy well shall pilgrimages be,
And not from purple Wales only nor from elmy England,
But from beyond seas, Erin, France and Flanders, everywhere,
Pilgrims, still pilgrims, m?re p?lgrims, still more poor pilgrims.
. . . . . . . .
What sights shall be when some that swung, wretches, on crutches
Their crutches shall cast from them, on heels of air departing,
Or they go rich as roseleaves hence that loathsome c?me hither!
Not now to n?me even
Those dearer, more divine boons whose haven the heart is.
. . . . . . . .
As sure as what is most sure, sure as that spring primroses
Shall new-dapple next year, sure as to-morrow morning,
Amongst come-back-again things, th?ngs with a revival, things with a recovery,
. . . . . . . .