Be adored among men,
God, three-numberèd form;
Wring thy rebel, dogged in den,
Man’s malice, with wrecking and storm.
Beyond saying sweet, past telling of tongue,
Thou art lightning and love, I found it, a winter and warm;
Father and fondler of heart thou hast wrung:
Hast thy dark descending and most art merciful then.

The Wreck of the Deutschland
By Gerard Manley Hopkins




When Hopkins friend Robert Bridges (who more than 40 years later would introduce this poem to the world) first read this poem he did not like it. In a (lost) letter he told Hopkins that he refused to ever read it again. This is Hopkins reply:

You say you wd. not for any money read my poem again. Nevertheless I beg you will. Besides money, you know, there is love. If it is obscure do not bother yourself with the meaning but pay attention to the best and most intelligible stanzas, as the two last of each part and the narrative of the wreck.

In his letter he refers (among others) to this and the next stanza. These are the two last of part one. Together they form a concluding prayer to God that he should fulfill his Glory in us.

Here, in the first half of the prayer, the image of water and storm reappear. God is beyond sweet and alluring words, He consists of paradoxes, Lightning and love, winter and warm.

There is an beautiful movement going on. From wring to wrung: The dogged in den, the wreck, over the sayings and past tellings, the expression “Thou art…” until the Father and fondler unfolds:

– The compassionate in the downward dark.



During lent I will publish the stanzas from the Wreck of the Deutschland, one by one. Sometimes with a small commentary or with some aspect about the poem. Hopefully someone will be able to use this as a form of prayer during Lent. Click here to get to stanza 1.