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The Habit of Perfection by Gerard Manley Hopkins



A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins for Friday's fasting ("The can must be so sweet, the crust / So fresh that comes in fasts divine!") and a necessary reminder that God's grace is ever present, but the acceptance of that grace, and the life worthy of its gift, is a matter of discipline, habit, the repetition of small sacrifices for the love of God, a thousand, daily, tiny steps toward heaven ...


The Habit of Perfection

Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorlèd ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.
...



Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb:
It is the shut, the curfew sent
From there where all surrenders come
Which only makes you eloquent.

Be shellèd, eyes, with double dark
And find the uncreated light:
This ruck and reel which you remark
Coils, keeps, and teases simple sight.

Palate, the hutch of tasty lust,
Desire not to be rinsed with wine:
The can must be so sweet, the crust
So fresh that come in fasts divine!

Nostrils, your careless breath that spend
Upon the stir and keep of pride,
What relish shall the censers send
Along the sanctuary side!

O feel-of-primrose hands, O feet
That want the yield of plushy sward,
But you shall walk the golden street
And you unhouse and house the Lord.

And, Poverty, be thou the bride
And now the marriage feast begun,
And lily-coloured clothes provide
our spouse not laboured-at nor spun.

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