It was a hard thing to undo this knot / by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard-Manley-Hopkins

It was a hard thing to undo this knot.

The rainbow shines, but only in the thought

Of him that looks. Yet not in that alone,

For who makes rainbows by invention? 

And many standing round a waterfall

See one bow each, yet not the same to all,

But each a hand’s breadth further than the next.

The sun on falling waters writes the text

Which yet is in the eye or in the thought.

It was a hard thing to undo this knot.

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About This Poem

The fragment “It was a hard thing to undo this knot” is one of Hopkins’s few surviving early poems; after making the decision to join the Society of Jesus, Hopkins burned most of his early work, believing at the time that poetry was distracting him from his religious calling.

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Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on July 28, 1844, near London. A Jesuit priest, he devoted most of his time to his religion, but is best remembered  today for the inventive and ingeniously musical verse he wrote in private. Hopkins died in 1889.

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