“The Child Christ lives on from generation to generation in the poets, very often the frailest of [mortals], but [mortals] whose frailty is redeemed by a child’s unworldliness, by a child’s delight in loveliness, by the spirit of wonder. Christ was a poet, and all through his life the Child remains perfect in him. It was the poet, the unworldly poet, who was king of the invisible kingdom; the priests and rulers could not understand that. The poets understand it, and they, too, are kings of the invisible kingdom, vassal kings of the Lord of Love, and their crowns are crowns of thorns indeed.” ~Caryll Houselander (b. 1901- d. 1954)
It is April thirtieth, the last day of April; which means that tomorrow begins May, the month dedicated in Roman Catholicism to the Most Holy Virgin Mary. The Marian Room will post exclusively about Our Lady each day in May; that is, on the days that we typically post, which are Monday through Friday. So, today, in order to align ourselves with the Church as she steps into this happy month, I am posting the poem, The May Magnificat, by the poet, Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844- d. 1889). This poem magnifies Our Lady who magnified Our Lord, not only in every action of her life, but, also, in her spoken word; specifically, in her delightful poem, The Magnificat. As to The May Magnificat of Fr. Hopkins: it shows us that he kept his childlike love for Our Lady into his adulthood. He loved Our Lady in imitation of Christ who he served. He, as a poet, was, as Caryll Houselander noted in the quote (above), a king of the invisible kingdom, a vassal king of the Lord of Love; and, as such, unlocks for us the happiness that beats in the Catholic heart as we enter the month dedicated to Our Lady, May. So, without further ado, The May Magnificat:
May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—
Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?
Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?
Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—
Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Throstle above her nested
Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.
All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.
Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry
And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—
This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.
As we enter the month of May, when all of nature is magnifying (Hopkins), may we, in unison with the Church, magnify Our Lady.
~Image: Madonna of Humility, painted between 143- 1450 by Fra Angelico (b. 1395- d. 1455), source.