‘Duns Scotus’s Oxford’ by Hopkins

oxford-cycle_1252173iHere is a poem from the famous poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Jesuit who was significantly influenced by the philosophy and theology of the medieval Franciscan John Duns Scotus. This short poem is titled Duns Scotus’s Oxford and reflects the admiration the poet had for Scotus, aware as he was of the Subtle Doctor’s persistent spirit in the place where the medieval master first developed his original philosophical and theological insights that, as the poem states, “most swayed” Hopkins’s “spirits to peace.”

Towery city and branchy between towers;
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmed, lark-charmed, rook-racked,
river-rounded;
The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country and town did
Once encounter in, here coped and posed powers;

Thou hast a base and brackish skirt there, sours
That neighbour-nature thy grey beauty is grounded
Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded
Rural rural keeping — folks, flocks, and flowers.

Yet ah! this air I gather and I release
He lived on; these weeds and waters, these walls are what
He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace;

Of reality the rarest-veined unraveller; a not
Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece;
Who fired France for Mary without spot.

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2 Responses to “‘Duns Scotus’s Oxford’ by Hopkins”

  1. Thanks for this poem. It’s one I’ve read a number of times and, as always, it’s a delight.

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