What I Do is Me - For That I Came
for Gerard Manley Hopkins
What I do is me - for that I came.
What I do is me?
For that I came into the world!
So said Gerard;
So said that gentle Manley Hopkins.
In his poetry and prose he saw the Fates that chose
Him in genetics, then set him free to find his way
Among the sly electric printings in his blood.
God thumbprints thee! he said.
Within for hour of birth
He touches hand to brow, He whorls and softly stamps
The ridges and the symbols of His soul above your eyes!
But in that selfsame hour, full born and shouting
Shocked pronouncements of one's birth,
In mirrored gaze of midwife, mother, doctor
See that Thumbprint fade and fall away in flush
So, lost, erased, you seek a lifetime's days for it
And dig deep to find the sweet instructions there.
Put by when God first circuited and printed thee to life:
"Go hence! do this! do that! do yet another thing!
This self is yours! Be it!"
And what is that?! you cry at hear thing breast,
Is there no rest? No, only journeying to be yourself.
And even as the Birthmark vanishes, in seashell ear
Now fading to a sigh, His last words send you into the world:
"Not mother, father, grandfather are you.
Be not another. Be the self I signed you in your blood.
I swarm your flesh with you. Seek that.
And, finding, be what no one else can be.
I leave you givers of Fate most secret; find no other's Fate,
For if you do, no grave is deep enough for your despair
No country far enough to hide your loss.
I circumnavigate each cell in you
Your merest molecule is right and true.
Look there for destinies indelible and fine
Ten thousand futures share for blood each instant'
Each drop off blood a cloned electric twin of you.
In merest wound on hand read replicas of what I planned
Before your birth, then hid it in your heart.
No part of you that does not snug and hold and hide
The self that you will be if faith abide.
What you do is thee. For that I gave your birth.
Be that. So be the only you that's truly you on Earth."
Dear Hopkins. Gentle Manley. Rare Gerard. Fine name.
What we do is us. Because of you. For that we came.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse.