The majesty! what did she mean?
Breathe, arch and original Breath.
Is it love in her of the being as her lover had been?
Breathe, body of lovely Death.
They were else-minded then, altogether, the men
Woke thee with a we are perishing in the weather of Gennesareth.
Or is it that she cried for the crown then,
The keener to come at the comfort for feeling the combating keen?

The Wreck of the Deutschland
By Gerard Manley Hopkins




The following three stanzas all try to interpret what the nun meant with her calling. Hopkins asks that the Holy Spirit will guide him (Breathe, arch and original Breath). He asks if she was happy to meat her death (as in the litany of St Gertrude the Great where there is an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary for a happy death). Furthermore, in the perspective of the nuptial mysticism of St Gertrude a sister is a bride to Christ and isn’t death then another word for life with the groom?

Or were the sisters hesitant and else-minded? Even the disciples where weak on the stormy lake of Gennesareth in Matthew 8:24. but the faithful will be keen when the finally meet him, as in the last line. Was the nun keen for the crown of Martyrdom?

Only four of the nuns where found. Probably one of them climbed out on deck only to be swept away by a wave. The four nuns behind her probably decided to try to stay put. They and other dead bodies where lying around on the floor in the cabin area.




Thanks to my son here are another photo of my cuttings from the Illustrated London News. This cutting pictures the SS Deutschland aground on the Kentish Knock on the Thursday morning. The tug Liverpool is seen approaching on the right.



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 the first stanza.