James Martin, S.J.March 25, 2011

According to news reports, at the funeral of Elizabeth Taylor yesterday, the actor Colin Farrell read from the Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo," which includes the lines "Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty's self and beauty's giver."  Hopkins (1844-1889) was an English Jesuit priest renowned for his creative use of language and rhythm.  The two-part poem, with Hopkins' characteristic "stresses" is printed in full, below.   

The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo

(Maiden's song from St. Winefred's Well)

The Leaden Echo

How to kéep—is there ány any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, láce, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, … from vanishing away?
Ó is there no frowning of these wrinkles, rankéd wrinkles deep,
Dówn? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?
No there ’s none, there ’s none, O no there ’s none,
Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,
Do what you may do, what, do what you may,
And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay
Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,
Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there ’s none; no no no there ’s none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair,
Despair, despair, despair, despair.
The Golden Echo

There ís one, yes I have one (Hush there!);
Only not within seeing of the sun,
Not within the singeing of the strong sun,
Tall sun’s tingeing, or treacherous the tainting of the earth’s air,
Somewhere elsewhere there is ah well where! one,
Oné. Yes I can tell such a key, I do know such a place,
Where whatever’s prized and passes of us, everything that ’s fresh and fast flying of us, seems to us sweet of us and swiftly away with, done away with, undone,
Undone, done with, soon done with, and yet dearly and dangerously sweet
Of us, the wimpled-water-dimpled, not-by-morning-matchèd face,
The flower of beauty, fleece of beauty, too too apt to, ah! to fleet,
Never fleets móre, fastened with the tenderest truth
To its own best being and its loveliness of youth: it is an everlastingness of, O it is an all youth!
Come then, your ways and airs and looks, locks, maiden gear, gallantry and gaiety and grace,
Winning ways, airs innocent, maiden manners, sweet looks, loose locks, long locks, lovelocks, gaygear, going gallant, girlgrace—
Resign them, sign them, seal them, send them, motion them with breath,
And with sighs soaring, soaring síghs deliver
Them; beauty-in-the-ghost, deliver it, early now, long before death
Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty, back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.
See; not a hair is, not an eyelash, not the least lash lost; every hair
Is, hair of the head, numbered.
Nay, what we had lighthanded left in surly the mere mould
Will have waked and have waxed and have walked with the wind what while we slept,
This side, that side hurling a heavyheaded hundredfold
What while we, while we slumbered.
O then, weary then why
When the thing we freely fórfeit is kept with fonder a care,
Fonder a care kept than we could have kept it, kept
Far with fonder a care (and we, we should have lost it) finer, fonder
A care kept.—Where kept? Do but tell us where kept, where.—
Yonder.—What high as that! We follow, now we follow.—Yonder, yes yonder, yonder,

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MaryAnn O'Donnell
9 years 11 months ago
Beauty, wow. Yes, if you have been known for this it never disappears and I do think Elizabeth Taylor was known for more than this, but does it matter. This is a beautiful poem.
Growing old is not that bad except some bad days you wonder how much longer and good days you thank God.
I have donated my body, pretty good shape yet though used, to science to be used for research so there will be no funeral. My young parish priest was horrified, the older priest I talked to simply said ''Do it''. I know there is a God because I have felt this so much, but I haven't been to church for sixteen months because I only feel an emptiness there.
So, loving poetry, loving the Bible, loving God, loving kids and animals and struggling people makes beautiful. Makes joy. It never fades.
9 years 11 months ago
Thank you - and thanks to Elizabeth Taylor - who knew? - for bringing this beautiful poem to a wider public.  I had never heard of it before; it moved me to tears.
Stacey Lazurek
9 years 11 months ago
Gerard Manley Hopkins was an amazing poet who made the English language sing and dance. This poem is certainly a beautiful tribute to an incredible actress and woman.
david power
9 years 11 months ago
"I haven't been to church for sixteen months because I only feel an emptiness there",

Mary Ann I understand how you feel and agree with you in your later comments.Often we dont understand history or have it read to us in a false way.
Two examples : The knights of Malta had a flag with an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on it and underneath was written "Our only Hope",  which may sound pious until you discover that it was written after the Vatican had betrayed the kNights. Our only hope was twofingers Romeward. The second is speculative, when St Ignatius revolutionised Catholic spirituality in the 16th Century and beyond his rallying call was "In All Things" , to find God in all things. Translated -Not only in ****** Religion.
Jesus never stepped foot inside a Church in his life and His preaching was most often done in the openair and perhaps it still is.
. Of course he wasn' t born in Ireland so He was cheating!
Antony Gardner
9 years 11 months ago
GMH lived for a while at the Jesuit Mount Street Centre in Mayfair, London next to the famous Farm Street Church. We hope that all America readers will pay us a visit when they come to London and attend Mass with us (Sung Latin at 11am Sundays - special). Nice parishioners, nice buildings and a special bunch of priests.

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