Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

Gerard Manley Hopkins—The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo

By James T. Majewski ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 27, 2022 | In Catholic Culture Audiobooks (Podcast)

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How to keep–is there ány any, is there none such, nowhere

known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, láce, latch

or catch or key to keep

Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, . . . from vanishing

away?

Gerard Manley Hopkins was an English poet and Jesuit priest born on July 28, 1844 (tomorrow would have been his 178th birthday!). A convert from Anglicanism, Hopkins was received into the Church in 1866 by none other than St. John Henry Newman. Because of his commitment to his religious and priestly vocation, Hopkins resolved never to publish his poems during his life. After his death, however, friends and acquaintances published his surviving work, and Hopkins was quickly recognized as one of the most innovative poets of his century.

“The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo”—originally intended as part of a larger, never finished poem about the martyrdom of St. Winifred—was completed in 1882, seven years before Hopkins’ untimely death of typhoid fever in 1889, at the age of 44. Hopkins considered it to be the most musical of his poems, and among the most dramatic.

Though he struggled with depression throughout his life, Hopkins’ last words at his death were, “I am so happy, I am so happy. I loved my life.” The mythic Philosopher’s Stone was believed to be capable of turning lead into gold. In “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo”, a similar transmutation occurs—the kind of transformation which God’s grace alone is capable of accomplishing.

Let’s pray for the soul of Gerard Manley Hopkins on this anniversary of his birth!

Links

“The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo” full text: https://hopkinspoetry.com/poem/the-leaden-echo-and-the-golden-echo/

Notable readings of the poem by Sir Alec Guinness and by Richard Burton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyPnd5zyzI0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhQwFf6Qb9U

Short film and reading of the poem by Margaret Tait: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L080KSBxemg

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Theme music: 2 Part Invention, composed by Mark Christopher Brandt, performed by Thomas Mirus. ©️2019 Heart of the Lion Publishing Co./BMI. All rights reserved.

James T. Majewski is Director of Customer Relations for CatholicCulture.org, the host and “voice” of Catholic Culture Audiobooks, and co-host of Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. A film and voice actor based in New York City, he holds a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. See full bio.

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