The May Magnificat Essay, Research Paper
In ?The May Magnificat? Gerald Hopkins describes the merry month of May as Mary’s month, and for that reason it is all the more magnificent. May is Mary’s month because she is no other than the great Mother Goddess of earth’s renewal. When he asks the ‘mighty mother’ why May is her month she answers with her own question: ‘What is Spring?’, to which she answers ‘Growth in every thing -’
Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Throstle above her nested
Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.
The `rising’ and `sizing’ and magnifying of things are likened to how Mary did `in her magnify the Lord’. There is still more. It tells the mirth, the ecstasy of the Maid:
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry.
Hopkins continues to celebrate ‘Spring’s universal bliss’ until, almost as an afterthought, he awkwardly drags himself back from the pagan world:
This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.
In ?The May Magnificat?, Hopkins use of sprung rhythm, since, after his own notes on the subject, nothing is left to say. I will dwell, rather, on what at first sight seems the strange imagery (it is of great beauty) of his poems. Sprung rhythm, four stresses in each line of the first couplet, three in each of the second.
This acute and piercing visual apprehension, this sharpening and heightening of the thing seen, so as to obtain its essential spirit, produces great beauty in ?The May Magnificat?. Here, in the sharply seen image the “star-eyed strawberry-breasted” thrush ? strawberry-breasted because of the freckles on her breast ? in the enhanced and deepened color of the “bugle blue eggs” (I presume the image is derived from the deep blue wildflower of that name ? bugle, or bugloss), in which the sharp u of “bugle” melting to the softer u of “blue” gives the reflection and the sisterhood of the deep blue heaven, the flower, and the egg, we have piercing truth-finding vision.