Yale Class of 1975

Poetry Project, Week 6

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

— Gerard Manley Hopkins

Paul T. Mascia (DC): I love the nature imagery in the first part of this poem, as it expresses how the myriad elements of the beauty in the world around us bring glory to God. But, even more, I love the second part, which highlights how the beauty of Christ shines forth in all the many unique faces of the human race. As I have grown up to enjoy the incredible religious, cultural and racial diversity of New York City, for example, for me, this poem reiterates two special messages from Maya Angelou:

      “Diversity makes for a rich tapestry.”
      “In diversity there is beauty, and there is strength.”

May our eyes be opened to the beauty of the face of Christ in all of humankind, and in every face we encounter in our day to day lives.