“Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?” GM Hopkins, ‘Terrible sonnets’
On this flaming day in June, such beautiful pagan mountains surround
Your uncertain presence in this bastion of the Jesuits.
I overheard disquisitions concerning the nuts and bolts of poetry
Whilst your real presence crept into my heart.
Your journey of renunciation washed you up on many rocky promontories:
Where love was spoken of, but never felt. No Greek love, mere austerity.
Who were the erastes** or the eromenos**of your dreams?
Did you visit the kybeia***? Travel languidly from the port of Piraeus to Crete?
Watch Sappho cavorting on the beach? Wonder how your self-denying ordnance could please the risen Christ?
Did you see yourself as his long-lost sheep who must repent, repent?
Was it for this lifetime of barely acknowledged misery that your saviour was created or sent? To cancel Dolben’s drowning, maybe?
A weary pantheism sustained your passing epiphanies, cancelled your melancholic, empty inscape,
showed you the truth in the passing beauties of Et in Arcadia ego****; where the low door
in the old wall would lead you into an enchanted garden: not overlooked by guilt or loss or God.
* bend and give way under a weight or force.
** Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged romantic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens
** Greek ‘a tavern for gambling and other activities’
**** Latin ‘Even in Arcadia, there am I’