Sunday surprise — Hopkins’ words like unto Clapton’s guitar

[ by Charles Cameron — what fire can spark forth when a great actor reads a great poet ]

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First, Clapton performing Dylan:

It’s the speeding beauty (grace, flight, blues brutality) of Clapton’s guitar riffs that I’d draw your attention to — how can the human voice, in language hope to compare?

It’s a question that has driven me any times to despair, listening to Clapton.

**

And then there’s this poem. Let me give you the words first, so you can follow them. Gerard Manley Hopkins is the poet:

The Leaden Echo and The Golden Echo

(Maidens’ song from St. Winefred’s Well)_

THE LEADEN ECHO

How to keep — is there any any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, lace, latch or catch or key to keep

Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty…. from vanishing away?

O is there no frowning of these wrinkles, ranked wrinkles deep,

Down? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?

No there’s none, there’s none, O no there’s none,

Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,

Do what you may do, what, do what you may,

And wisdom is early to despair:

Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done

To keep at bay

Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,

Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;

So be beginning, be beginning to despair.

O there’s none; no no no there’s none:

Be beginning to despair, to despair,

Despair, despair, despair, despair.

THE GOLDEN ECHO

Spare!

There is one, yes I have one (Hush there!);

Only not within seeing of the sun,

Not within the singeing of the strong sun,

Tall sun’s tingeing, or treacherous the tainting of the earth’s air.

Somewhere elsewhere there is ah well where! one,

One. Yes I can tell such a key, I do know such a place,

Where whatever’s prized and passes of us, everything that’s fresh and fast flying of us, seems to us sweet of us and swiftly away with, done away with, undone,

Undone, done with, soon done with, and yet dearly and dangerously sweet

Of us, the wimpled-water-dimpled, not-by-morning-matched face,

The flower of beauty, fleece of beauty, too too apt to, ah! to fleet,

Never fleets more, fastened with the tenderest truth

To its own best being and its loveliness of youth: it is an ever-lastingness of, O it is an all youth!

Come then, your ways and airs and looks, locks, maiden gear, gallantry and gaiety and grace,

Winning ways, airs innocent, maiden manners, sweet looks, loose locks, long locks, lovelocks, gaygear, going gallant, girlgrace —

Resign them, sign them, seal them, send them, motion them with breath,

And with sighs soaring, soaring sighs deliver

Them; beauty-in-the-ghost, deliver it, early now, long before death

Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.

See; not a hair is, not an eyelash, not the least lash lost; every hair

Is, hair of the head, numbered.

Nay, what we had lighthanded left in surly the mere mould

Will have waked and have waxed and have walked with the wind what while we slept,

This side, that side hurling a heavyheaded hundredfold

What while we, while we slumbered.

O then, weary then why should we tread? O why are we so haggard at the heart, so care-coiled, care-killed, so fagged, so fashed, so cogged, so cumbered,

When the thing we freely forfeit is kept with fonder a care,

Fonder a care kept than we could have kept it, kept

Far with fonder a care (and we, we should have lost it) finer, fonder

A care kept. Where kept? Do but tell us where kept, where. —

Yonder. — What high as that! We follow, now we follow. —

Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,

Yonder.

Richard Burton, unbelievably, recites this poem:

Burton performing Hopkins.

Let that wash over you once. Or twice — or as they say, binge-listen.

One of the commentators on the Clapton video calls it “a guitar tutorial on what it means to truly master the art of music” — ditto say I for Burton performing Hopkins.

we could get into the magnificent rage of Clapton & Dylan later (from a quasi-pacifist position over here).