I love finding new poets whose works I think I shall love.
My Paul Mariani biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins arrived today. I have read the acknowledgments, the first paragraph of the first chapter, and a poem of Mariani's dedicated to Hopkins . . . and I've fallen in love with Mariani, who will, I have no doubt, make me fall in love with Hopkins all over again.
Kendall sent me a picture of a kingfisher ("As kingfishers catch fire") from the November 2009 National Geographic. Here a couple of links to the article and its photos. This is, of course, the "fisher" to which Mariani's poem below refers.
Here's the dedication poem by Mariani that opens the book (those who are familiar with Hopkins will especially appreciate it):
Hopkins in Ireland
for the Jesuit community at Boston College
Above the bluebleak priest the brightblue fisher hovers.
The priest notes the book upon the table, the lamp beside the book.
A towering Babel of papers still to grade, and that faraway look
as once more the mind begins to wander. Ah, to creep beneath the covers
of the belled bed beckoning across the room. He stops, recovers,
takes another sip of bitter tea, then winces as he takes another look
at the questions he has posed his students and the twists they took
to cover up their benighted sense of Latin. The fisher hovers
like a lit match closer to him. The windows have all been shut against
the damp black Dublin night. After all these years, his collar chokes
him still, in spite of which he wears it like some outmoded mark
of honor, remembering how his dear Ignatius must have sensed
the same landlocked frustrations. Again he lifts his pen. His strokes
lash out against the dragon din of error. The fisher incandesces in the dark.