In the latest issue:

Democracy? No thanks

Eric Foner

The Bournemouth Set

Andrew O’Hagan

Short Cuts: How to Block Spike

Rupert Beale

Poem: ‘Lark’

Anne Carson

Mussolini’s Unrealism

Edward Luttwak

Characteristically Spenderish

Seamus Perry

Waiting for Valéry

Michael Wood

Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann

The Case for a Supreme Court

Stephen Sedley

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew

At Las Pozas: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden

Mike Jay

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt

Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades

‘Love at Last Sight’

Chloë Daniel

Instapoetry

Clare Bucknell

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne

Diary: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps

Iain Sinclair

Hopkins in WalesLachlan Mackinnon
Close
Close
Vol. 6 No. 12 · 5 July 1984
Poem

Hopkins in Wales

Lachlan Mackinnon

225 words

A sheep nibbling earth’s firstlings is my spirit
that prays for the day Christ may stoop me
as a cooper denies his timber’s nature –
for two years in this windy eye of God
I have wrestled and prayed against myself
and you ask if I have the time for poems ...
Your letter brought me tears, and I was grateful.
Oppression, expression, these are words
but lack the radish-bite of right words
for two years in the flinty field
of etymology. Aneurin, for example,
is honour, maybe, passed down from the Romans

and fading like the faces on their coins –
or is ‘little-all-gold’, an honorific
for a tanned baby. So Aneurin ap Caw
was the little-all-gold-one of the flowing muse;
words are riddles I dare not answer,
to crack them cracks my heart. Men come to us
and tell God what they cannot tell their wives
and sometimes things press forward at me
begging to speak, symbols, hallucinations –
if I fix my mind with a bare tree,
a frozen spray of being, why always
does it remind me of the bare fork’dness
I must become and cannot? Pray for me and mine,

my brothers in this desolation;
I will not write again, for I am no one,
and must be nothing but the wind’s creak
that flays this earth’s responding stubbornness.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences