'Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray' by Gerard Manley Hopkins
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Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,
Nowhere. Natural heart's ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.
We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness?—He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins is a well-renowned poet who is widely celebrated for his unique style and his ability to capture the beauty of nature in his works. One of his most famous poems is "Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray," which was written in 1885. This poem is an ode to the virtue of patience and the power of prayer. In this essay, we will explore the themes and motifs of Hopkins' poem, as well as analyze its structure, use of language, and style.
"Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray" is a sonnet that consists of fourteen lines, with an ABAB rhyme scheme. The poem is a reflection on the Christian virtues of patience and prayer. Hopkins opens the poem by stating that patience is a "hard thing," but he follows it up with the assertion that prayer is even harder. The poem then goes on to explore the reasons why prayer is so difficult, and how it can be used to cultivate the virtue of patience.
One of the distinctive features of Hopkins' poetry is his use of sprung rhythm. Sprung rhythm is characterized by irregular stress patterns, which give the poem a natural, organic feel. This is evident in "Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray," where Hopkins uses a variety of stressed and unstressed syllables to create a rhythm that mimics the ebb and flow of nature. Additionally, the poem's structure is that of a classic sonnet, with fourteen lines and an ABAB rhyme scheme.
Themes and Motifs
The central theme of "Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray" is the importance of cultivating patience and prayer in one's life. Hopkins argues that both virtues are difficult to attain, but they are essential for leading a virtuous life. Through the use of imagery and metaphor, Hopkins emphasizes the importance of these virtues. For example, he compares patience to a tree that grows slowly but surely, while prayer is likened to the sound of a bell tolling in the distance.
Another important motif in the poem is the idea of waiting. Throughout the poem, Hopkins emphasizes the importance of waiting patiently for the things we desire. He suggests that through patient waiting, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude and a deeper appreciation for the blessings in our lives. This message is particularly relevant in today's fast-paced society, where instant gratification is often the norm.
The opening line of the poem, "Patience, hard thing!" immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Hopkins acknowledges that patience is a difficult virtue to cultivate, but he also suggests that it is an essential one. He goes on to say that prayer is even harder than patience. This is a surprising assertion, as prayer is often seen as a relatively easy thing to do. However, Hopkins argues that true prayer requires a deep sense of humility and faith, which are difficult to attain.
Hopkins then uses metaphor to describe the process of cultivating patience. He compares patience to a tree that grows slowly but surely. This image reinforces the idea that patience takes time, and that it requires a steadfast commitment to growth and development. The image of the tree also suggests that patience is a natural virtue, one that grows organically and is deeply rooted in our souls.
In the second half of the poem, Hopkins turns his attention to the role of prayer in cultivating patience. He suggests that through prayer, we can learn to wait patiently for the things we desire, and to trust in God's plan for our lives. Hopkins uses powerful imagery to describe the act of prayer, likening it to the sound of a bell tolling in the distance. This image suggests that prayer is a transcendent act, one that connects us with a higher power and helps us to cultivate a sense of awe and wonder.
"Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray" is a powerful poem that speaks to the human experience of waiting and the importance of cultivating patience and prayer in our lives. Through the use of metaphor and imagery, Hopkins creates a vivid and compelling portrait of these virtues, and he suggests that they are essential for leading a virtuous life. This poem is a testament to Hopkins' skill as a poet, and it continues to resonate with readers today, more than a century after it was written.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray is a classic poem written by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a renowned English poet of the Victorian era. The poem is a beautiful expression of the human struggle to maintain patience and faith in the face of adversity. It is a powerful reminder that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to pray.
The poem is structured in two stanzas, each consisting of six lines. The first stanza begins with the line "Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray," which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker acknowledges that patience is a difficult thing to maintain, but that the hardest thing of all is to pray.
The second line of the first stanza reads, "But bid for, Patience is!" Here, the speaker suggests that patience is something that must be actively sought after. It is not something that comes naturally to us, but rather something that we must work for. The use of the word "bid" implies that patience is something that we must actively request or command.
The third line of the first stanza reads, "Patience who asks wants warre, / He but importunes that nathless can say no." Here, the speaker suggests that asking for patience is like asking for a battle. The person who asks for patience is essentially asking for a challenge, as patience is not something that comes easily. The second part of the line suggests that even if we ask for patience, we may not always receive it. The word "importunes" implies that we may be begging or pleading for patience, but that it is ultimately up to a higher power to grant it to us.
The fourth line of the first stanza reads, "Patience is sottish, and impatience does / Become a dog that's mad." Here, the speaker suggests that patience can sometimes seem foolish or stupid, while impatience can make us act like irrational animals. The use of the word "sottish" implies that patience can make us seem slow-witted or foolish, while the comparison to a "dog that's mad" suggests that impatience can make us act like wild animals.
The fifth line of the first stanza reads, "Then is it sinne to rush into a fray?" Here, the speaker asks a rhetorical question, suggesting that it is wrong to rush into a battle or a conflict. The use of the word "sinne" implies that such actions are morally wrong or sinful.
The final line of the first stanza reads, "But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee / Came not all else from A to Infinity?" Here, the speaker questions why patience is such a difficult thing to maintain. If patience is so important, why is it not something that comes naturally to us? The use of the phrase "A to Infinity" suggests that the speaker is questioning why patience is not a universal trait that is present in all things.
The second stanza of the poem begins with the line "This grief was sent thee by the gods." Here, the speaker suggests that the adversity or hardship that we face in life is not something that we can control. It is something that is sent to us by a higher power, whether that be God or some other force.
The second line of the second stanza reads, "To show thee what thy soul can bear." Here, the speaker suggests that the purpose of this adversity is to test us and to show us what we are capable of. The use of the word "soul" implies that this test is not just physical, but also spiritual or emotional.
The third line of the second stanza reads, "Thy root is ever in its grave." Here, the speaker suggests that we are all rooted in death, and that our mortality is a constant reminder of our own limitations. The use of the word "grave" implies that death is always present, even if we are not actively thinking about it.
The fourth line of the second stanza reads, "Nor can man find the unbounded cause / Of his weeds, therefore dare not to complain." Here, the speaker suggests that we cannot always understand the reasons behind our hardships or struggles. The use of the word "weeds" implies that these struggles are like unwanted plants that we must learn to live with. The final part of the line suggests that we should not complain about our struggles, as we cannot always understand the reasons behind them.
The fifth line of the second stanza reads, "But rather take them as sweet things / Made by the Maker of the Springs." Here, the speaker suggests that we should try to see our struggles as something positive or sweet. The use of the phrase "Maker of the Springs" implies that these struggles are part of a larger plan or purpose, and that we should trust in that plan.
The final line of the second stanza reads, "Content thee, howsoe'er things be, / If but the will and love be free." Here, the speaker suggests that we should try to find contentment in our lives, regardless of our circumstances. The use of the phrase "will and love" implies that our attitude and our emotions are more important than our external circumstances.
Overall, Patience, Hard Thing! The Hard Thing But To Pray is a powerful poem that speaks to the human struggle to maintain patience and faith in the face of adversity. The poem suggests that patience is something that must be actively sought after, and that it is not always easy to maintain. The poem also suggests that our struggles and hardships are part of a larger plan or purpose, and that we should try to find contentment in our lives regardless of our circumstances. Ultimately, the poem is a reminder that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to pray, but that prayer can be a powerful tool in helping us to maintain patience and faith.
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