“That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire…”

I wonder if every summer house (actually summer house sounds too South Hampton, scratch that)… I wonder of every “summer camp” (think rustic but with running water, fragile windows, mis-matched, patchwork furniture and a distinct slight musty dusty smell) has a smattering of miscellaneous leftover, crooked leaning, paperback books on a dusty shelf which must always include some sort of anthology of poetry.  The house I am living in this summer certainly has one:  “A Pocket Book of Modern Verse.” My version is from 1958 with the 19th printing in 1968.

My first stop in the book was my favorite poet during my freshman year of college: Gerard Manly Hopkins.  Some poems I remembered reasonably well (Pied Beauty), and for a few there was a shock of recognition, like “That Nature Is A Heraclitean Fire And Of The Comfort Of The Resurrection.”  Especially this line:

          This Jack, joke, poor, potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal
                diamond,
                                                   Is immortal diamond.

Like this:

James Carse wrote of similar things in Breakfast at the Victory when he wrote:

Endings were part of a larger formless tumble that started from who knows where, and would go on to who gives a damn.  Buddhists have a name for it: samsara, the state of endless change from which nothing and no one ever escape. (Page 5)

All true.  But I suspect, like with Hopkins and I suspect with Carse, it really isn’t so bad.

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2 responses to ““That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire…”

  1. Hi Will. Love the referral to “A Pocket Book of Modern Verse.” I actually had a copy of that, but the cover was a little different. When the world was calmer and people took time to think and reflect more deeply, the poets delved into a world of soul and eternity. Lovely images.
    Glad to see the blog again!
    Best,
    Ellen

  2. It is good to be blogging again! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words!

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