Episode 71

Hopkins, As Kingfishers Catch Fire


April 18th, 2024

23 mins 55 secs

Season 6

Your Hosts

About this Episode

This episode dives into the wonderful world of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the musicality of his language, and the vision he has of becoming what we already are.

This poem illustrates the cover of Abram Van Engen's new book, Word Made Fresh. The book explores connections between poetry and faith, and it serves as an invitation to reading poetry of all kinds--with tools and tips for how to get started and explore broadly.

Special thanks to John Hendrix for the cover illustration of Word Made Fresh, which is an illustration of "As Kingfishers Catch Fire."

Here is the poem by Hopkins:

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

See the poem at the Poetry Foundation.

For more on Hopkins, see here.

The last chapter of Word Made Fresh dwells at length on this poem by Hopkins as an expression of what poetry does and can do in the world.

Episode Links

  • Word Made Fresh: An Invitation to Poetry for the Church — Have you ever read a book that turned your world upside down? What about a poem? Poetry has the power to enliven, challenge, change, and enrich our lives. But it can also feel intimidating, confusing, or simply “not for us.” In these joyful and wise reflections, Abram Van Engen shows readers how poetry is for everyone—and how it can reinvigorate our Christian faith. Intertwining close readings with personal storytelling, Van Engen explains how and why to read poems as a spiritual practice. Far from dry, academic instruction, his approach encourages readers to delight in poetry, even as they come to understand its form. He also opens up the meaning of poetry and parables in Scripture, revealing the deep connection between literature and theology. Word Made Fresh is more than a guide to poetry—it’s an invitation to wonder, to speak up, to lament, to praise. Including dozens of poems from diverse authors, this book will inspire curious and thoughtful readers to see God and God’s creation in surprising new ways.