Thursday, 8 November 2012

These weeds and waters, these walls


Walking through Oxford this morning, I had Gerard Manley Hopkins's description of the city swimming through my memory: 'Towery city and branchy between towers / Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-racked, river-rounded'... There are no cuckoos and larks in November, but there were, this sunny morning, plenty of towers, branches, rooks and rivers - and many bells, as always. The lines are from Hopkins' poem 'Duns Scotus' Oxford', and as today is the anniversary of the death of Duns Scotus (in 1308), here is the poem, with one or two pictures of his, and Hopkins', and this morning's Oxford.




Towery city and branchy between towers;
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-racked, river-rounded;
The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country and town did
Once encounter in, here coped and poisèd powers;

Thou hast a base and brickish skirt there, sours
That neighbour-nature thy grey beauty is grounded
Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded
Rural rural keeping—folk, flocks, and flowers.

Yet ah! this air I gather and I release
He lived on; these weeds and waters, these walls are what
He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace;

Of realty the rarest-veinèd unraveller; a not
Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece;
Who fired France for Mary without spot.

6 comments:

John Simlett said...

A Fantastic blog! I have become a follower, I hope you don't mind.

Call it an 'intervention', but I only saw your blog mentioned over on Fr Ray Blake's blog - in the comments re 'fishermen and barbers'- yesterday.

Today, I have been researching Wells Cathedral in preparation for a drawing I plan to make. Having found some great reference photographs all I needed was the detail of the stained glass windows in the background ... I searched Google images and found what I wanted in a blog which turns out to be yours!

I wondered where I had seen, ' A Clerk of Oxford' before ... and then I remembered! The circle was complete!

1. Hello!

2. May I use one of your photographs please?

Clerk of Oxford said...

Hello, and welcome! I love getting new followers. You're certainly welcome to use my photographs of Wells Cathedral - I'd be interested to see your drawing when you have finished it! Which stained glass window was it?

John Simlett said...

Thank you, you are too kind. I will attribute the photographs to you in any blurb with the drawing

Your photograph of the three double windows with six kings. Although I will only show the one on the extreme left.

The main reference photograph I shall be using is a mono taken c1900, and is a geometric wonder. My technique will be to draw it all in black ink, with your window in full colour in the distance. Thus pulling the eye through all the geometry.

For an example, click on my name and then select my blog - here you will see my 'Cloisters' at Gloucester Cathedral, using coloured stained glass in a black and white drawing.

Thank so much.

Clerk of Oxford said...

Ah, the kings - I do like that window! Your 'Cloisters' is wonderful. I'll be keeping an eye on your blog and look forward to seeing your progress with Wells Cathedral.

PM said...

I've just come across this post, so please excuse the lateness of this comment. One of the best things I have ever seen on the Immaculate Conception is a sermon by the late Herbert McCabe OP, himself a great (and colourful) Oxford institution - in which he gives, for a Dominican, unusually generous tribute to Scotus. It is anthologised in his God Matters.

Clerk of Oxford said...

Interesting, thank you - I'll search it out. I don't know as much about Scotus as I would like to!