Hope Holds to Christ
by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1899)
Hope holds to Christ the mind’s own mirror out
To take His lovely likeness more and more.
It will not well, so she would bring about
An ever brighter burnish than before
And turns to wash it from her welling eyes
And breathes the blots off all with sighs on sighs.
Her glass is blest but she as good as blind
Holds till hand aches and wonders what is there;
Her glass drinks light, she darkles down behind,
All of her glorious gainings unaware.
. . . . . . . .
I told you that she turned her mirror dim
Betweenwhiles, but she sees herself not Him.
Hopkins, Gerard Manley. Poems. London: Humphrey Milford, 1918; Bartleby.com, 1999. www.bartleby.com/122/. November 22, 2016.
This poem is hard to understand at first reading, but try it a second time.
Imagine you are Hope, and you desperately want to see Christ in this magical mirror. But you keep seeing yourself, so you keep trying to make the image in the mirror clearer. You wash it with your tears. And then with your breath. You keep trying and trying, trying so long that your hand begins to ache holding up the mirror. But still, you see yourself.
For now. Advent is that time of waiting, knowing that someday we will be able to see Christ fully. There will come a time when we shall see all things more clearly.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(I Corinthians 13:12)