Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Poem ‘Peace’
I’m not entirely sure why I feel compelled to share this short poem by Hopkins other than these days of financial turmoil, violence in the world, political instability in this country and elsewhere seems to evoke a longing for some sort of peace that is more stable, more longstanding than what is offered “piecemeal,” to borrow Hopkins’s descriptor. I hope that you will find this poetic reflection edifying and, as it has for me, lead you to pray for a peace that is substantive and divine. Such peace is not found in the fleeting power reversals and violent victories of human action, but in the surrender of such power and the foregoing of violence that the Gospel calls all humankind to embrace. Indeed that peace is a proper noun (Peace) as Hopkins indicates, and that Peace is Christ.
When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure Peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?
O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
He Comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.