The Beginning of the End

Gerard Manley Hopkins

My love is lessened and must soon be past.

I never promised such persistency

In its condition. No, the tropic tree

Has not a charter that its sap shall last

Into all seasons, though no Winter cast

The happy leafing. It is so with me:

My love is less, my love is less for thee.

I cease the mourning and the abject fast,

And rise and go about my works again

And, save by darting accidents, forget.

But ah! if you could understand how then

That less is heavens higher even yet

Than treble-fervent more of other men,

Even your unpassion'd eyelids might be wet.


I must feed Fancy. Show me any one

That reads or holds the astrologic lore,

And I'll pretend the credit given of yore;

And let him prove my passion was begun

In the worst hour that's measured by the sun,

With such malign conjunctions as before

No influential heaven ever wore;

That no recorded devilish thing was done

With such a seconding, nor Saturn took

Such opposition to the Lady-star

In the most murderous passage of his book;

And I'll love my distinction: Near or far

He says his science helps him not to look

At hopes so evil-heaven'd as mine are.


You see that I have come to passion's end;

This means you need not fear the storms, the cries,

That gave you vantage when you would despise:

My bankrupt heart has no more tears to spend.

Else I am well assured I would offend

With fiercer weepings of these desperate eyes

For poor love's failure than his hopeless rise.

But now I am so tired I soon shall send

Barely a sigh to thought of hopes forgone.

Is this made plain? What have I come across

That here will serve me for comparison?

The sceptic disappointment and the loss

A boy feels when the poet he pores upon

Grows less and less sweet to him, and knows no cause.