Inversnaid

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

– Gerard Manley Hopkins

The lushness of “Inversnaid” can be attributed to Hopkins’ love of words (he collected unusual ones in his diaries); his love of nature, which he saw as an extension of God’s beauty; and cynghanedd, the use of heavy alliteration, assonance and internal rhyme, which he borrowed from Welsh poetry.

I love “Inversnaid” for its lyrical beauty. Each line is as vivid, as kinetic as the thing it describes, while the foliage of language — the twisty syntax and obscure words — keeps the sense partially hidden; I think a clear image of the waterfall emerges only after multiple readings. It’s like discovering a secret corner of the forest.

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