Upon this glory moulded gilded gold and morning
         Fell obscure to seams behold, the flutter-blood of earth upturned
         The yellow folds, twas kingdom sworn – finer picking, pluck it yearned,
Dawned, upon what love to tell, the finer song in lovage yawning,
I swore, by song in swelled out throttle chords, to mouth, oh spring! –
         Under thimbled tips your swift unsingly, your greener, large rudder wings
         The palest gourd: as fend-off-falcon-gentle swings sweet to the little things,
blow, and wind be fearless upon thy single shin:

You turn, a sibyl songstress the amberest pluck, nihtegales’ wold,
         And be not a tempered thing, shadowed over gleaming sight
         Beauty in the marksman gully thy paints upon mine height,
The slender, supple, oh, wonder flutter of a neck in reddish gold –

Majesty of one that does not contend, nor bend the will of vixens’ den,
         A prairie-borne of one who knowest the better sough
         Unknown to thee bee-catcher wings form finger grins below the bough –
Thy comrade nature, be a beating plume, an eye for eye o’er gloaming glen.

© Eve Redwater 2012


[I’ve written this for DVersepoets Form for All, where we’ve been tasked of writing in the style of Gerard Manley Hopkins and his beautiful “sprung rhythm” poetry. I wanted to capture the flight of a Mandarin duck over a field with this poem. I’m a big fan of Hopkins, so this was a joy to write!]

70 thoughts on “Mandarin

  1. When this turned up in my email, I thought, now, Eve really must have been reading Hopkins, especially “The Windhover,” and lo and behold! when I get to the bottom, I discover you have! I’ll bet writing in the style of Hopkins was a breeze for you, because you’ve always done it, without even intending to! Lovely poetry!

    • Hi Lorinda! Thank you for visiting again. 🙂

      Yes, The Windhover was a big influence here! I’m so glad we’ve been able to write like this, it really was an immense joy! I very much enjoyed it – I’ll keep giving his style a shot in the future too, who knows where it could lead!

  2. this is gorgeous…you captured the flight well..and the rhythm springs on the it…lines like…Unknown the thee bee-catcher wings form finger grins below the bough…and… as fend-off-falcon-gentle swings sweet to the little things…so good..

  3. We read words, sometimes, and forget that they come from the heart…there is no forgetting with you, dear Eve…there is only knowing…so beautiful…always. Thank you.

  4. Eve, this poem is so delicate, so fluid, dense with images so very nearly magical, that it grieves me to say anything against it at all. I think you have found the inspiration and beauty that is inherent in Hopkins’ poetry. I think he would have been honored that his work inspired this one. However, (oh dear, here comes the BUT…) as I scan it, it’s not ‘sprung rhythm’. I think your native rhythm is so naturally iambic that it springs from you without having to consider it (wouldn’t we all wish for that!). Where you vary from iambic, it seems to me is that you add anapests. Even “yawning” which normally would be a trochee, seems to act as a spondee here to rhyme with spring.

    I wouldn’t want you to change a word of it. It is perfect as it is; it behaves as it was meant to do – soaring above the horizon like a long trumpeting note. Perhaps another subject in another poem another time, you can play with different rhythms. This one should stand as written.

    • Hello Gay, thank you very much for stopping by and reading!

      Yes, I can see it now! It’s not exactly “sprung” properly, is it? I think I got a little to enamoured with Hopkins’s style, and ended up paying less attention to the technical side of things than I probably should have! But, I did really really enjoy this exercise, so I’m glad to have taken part, especially as Hopkins is one of my favourites. 🙂 Thank you! And thank you for the task, too; I’m happy that others have been able to be exposed to his work!

  5. this is really well written eve, some very classical touches and nice changes in pacing through out….my fav part…

    Under thimbled tips your swift unsingly, your greener, large rudder wings
    The palest gourd: as fend-off-falcon-gentle swings sweet to the little things

    some really great imagery through out as well…like it much…smiles.

  6. thank you, Eve. you’ve introduced me to a whole new kind of reading.
    I love your closing line, thoroughly…
    “Thy comrade nature, be a beating plume, an eye for eye o’er gloaming glen.”

    • Thank you Jane! I’m happy that you like the ending. 🙂 And I’m glad that you’ve found something new, that’s really great! Hopkins is a massive inspiration~

  7. This is a beautiful poem. It instantly reminded me of Gerard Manly Hopkins whose poetry is exquisite. Eve, I edit a small Arts Journal called Bray Arts Journal. It is a voluntary arts endeavour here in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. I really would like to publish this poem in our June Edition. Alas, there is no payment except a few copies of the Journal. You can have a look at the jounal on our website Let me know if you are agreeable to my suggestion.
    We print 500 Journals each month and distrute them locally and post some overseas to friends in the USA .

    • Hello Dermot! Thank you so very much for reading this poem and liking it enough to extend this offer to me. I’d be happy to let you use it in your arts journal; I shall be in contact with you soon! 🙂

  8. I am not astute to the meter and mechanics of such verse, but I slowly enjoyed the ride as I observed the complex alliteration that was woven throughout. I will need to study this more so I can appreciate the form. I so enjoyed the read!

    • Thanks so much Debra! I really enjoy the lyrical style too, it felt a little more “natural” to me, if that makes sense? 🙂 It felt good to write! I couldn’t ask for a nicer feeling when writing! x

  9. I haven no schooling at all in verse. I don’t understand most of what Gay explained about sprung, iambic, anapests, and trochee are. It’s like a foreign language to me but, I do know what I enjoy. This is beautiful. Soft, gentle, a flight carried on old winds in a language I do understand. Lovely.

    • Hehe, not to worry! I find it all rather confusing myself, not to mention I’m still unsure which is which and what works where… but we’re not the only ones, believe me! I really appreciate Gay’s feedback though, I’ve been able to learn a lot from it. 🙂

      This really was a pleasure to write, so I’m glad you like it! Smiles all round! x

  10. This is a firm of rhyme I don’t come across very often, you write with such beautiful expression. I am so glad your dissertation is finished – I’ve missed your poetic delights!

  11. I am delighted to have found your blog! You are incredibly talented, and the sweep and grandeur of your words have lifted me up right with that pretty duck! And thank you for introducing us to Gerard Manley Hopkins. I am off to learn more about him, but will be back soon to read more of your treasures. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi Gina! Wow, thank you for the kind and lovely words – it’s such a pleasure to meet you. 🙂 Glad to show off Hopkins, too! His works were only appreciated many, many years after his death. Such a shame, but, I’m happy that we’re able to be exposed to his inspirational words. Let me know what you think of him! See you soon!

      Eve x

  12. Eve, it is always a pleasure to read your work. I love your dedication to the craft and the jewels you produce with your words. I am also eating a mandarin as we speak, so this moment is extra magical! 😀

  13. thank you ER for sharing your poetic reflections of your poetic friend, “Gerard Manley Hopkins.”

    loved it…

    David in Maine UsA

  14. This is absolutely gorgeous. When I first read it, I thought of Wordsworth–but then realizing it was in response to Gay’s prompt, Hopkins just jumps out as inspiration. Both of these poets would be proud of you.

  15. You definitely have Hopkins down but with y our own spin too. I love Hopkins – mine was much more collequial – sprung, but did not attempt this beautiful rich mosaic of landscape and birdscape and sky. Just terrific. k.

  16. The wealth of words here is outstanding, Eve…how you touch them with your poetic flair, and love them for their look and sound and how much they can express in uniquely descriptive combinations. Even without knowing the Hopkins inspiration (and I have to admit I ‘m not familiar with his poetry…but of course want to rectify that now!) I experienced an almost ‘Alice in Wonderland’ world in reverse…of being transported up instead of down, into the magical visualizations that words can effect.

    One of my favorite lines: ‘The slender, supple, oh, wonder flutter of a neck in reddish gold – ‘

  17. I’m not a GNH aficionado, but ‘sprung rhythm’ is very apt, because your poem springs gloriously with its irresistible rhythm. The repeating rhymes and alliteration, to say nothing of the language you use, gives such a depth and colour that it suggests you are a linguist or at least a literary scholar, rather than an undergraduate of East Asian Studies 🙂

    Super poem.

    • Thank you ever so much John!

      This was a particularly enjoyable poem to write for me on a personal level, and though I’ve not got the rhythm exactly right, it was still fun to create! I’ll just have to pay more mind to the words next time! 🙂

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