At Elizabeth Taylor’s funeral in March, the actor Colin Farrell read “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo,” by the English Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). The poem was reported to be among the late actress’s favorites. In a special addition to our online Culture section, Hopkins scholar Joseph J. Feeney, S.J., imagines a meeting between the two.
"My dear Miss Taylor," he began.
"Oh, Fr. Hopkins, please call me Liz."
"Why yes, ah, ah, Liz, ah, I've been thinking about you recently, since I heard of your death, and...."
"Oh, Fr. Hopkins, how kind you are."
"Well, ah, Liz, I also heard that you had my poem 'The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo' read at your funeral. I'm very honored, for that poem seems so well to fit your beauty and your new life with God that I'd like to discuss it with you."
"Oh, please tell me more about it, Fr. Hopkins."
"I began the poem in 1880 while visiting my family in London, finished it two years later at the Jesuit school where I taught in Lancashire, and planned it as a musical 'Maidens’ song' for 'St. Winefred’s Well,' a play I never completed. It deals quite directly with the beauty of young women."