2018 St Bueno’s Visit

Hopkins Society members enjoying the St Buenos gardens on the study day

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring” … On Saturday April 7 2018, some 16 members 
of the society visited St Bueno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre. Hopkins lived here from 1874 to 1877, studying theology in preparation for the priesthood. These were some of his happiest years and he wrote some very inspirational poetry here with God and the welsh language and scenery as the background. Indeed it was here that the rector at the time inspired Hopkins to start writing poetry again, after a self imposed ban to better concentrate on his vocation, when the rector commented that someone ought to write a poem based on the wreck of the Deutchland ship in 1975.
The first session on “Preparing to read the poems aloud” was led first by Wyn Hobson and we looked at “Thou are indeed just, Lord”, a poem in iambic pentameter form with five stressed syllables in each line.  Unlike later poems, this poem is not written in sprung rhythm, a form invented by Hopkins. Wyn helped us to work our way through unstressed and stressed syllables, even finding some that are only half stressed. Lance Pierson took up the mantle and the group analysed the poems of “Spring” and “Hurrahing in Harvest”, remembering that Hopkins in his letters to Robert Bridges stressed that his poems worked best when read aloud, and he often included stress marks on his poems. Lance finished by reading “Spelt From Sybil’s Leaves, a poem that even many Hopkins enthusiasts find difficult to read and understand but which became all the clearer with the notes that Lance provided and his reading of it, in the way Lance interpreted that Hopkins intended …..
  The group experienced an excellent contemplative silent lunch amongst the current retreatants, but due to the misty, drizzly weather and the very muddy state of the local footpaths, the planned guided walk around Moel Maenefa and the welsh countryside that Hopkins so loved was postponed and the group had a walk in the grounds of St Bueno’s instead.  (photograph below) …In summary the members left inspired to better read Hopkins poetry aloud in future …