All is one and One is all

God is everywhere. This is a common phrase to hear when talking to anyone about this all powerful deity known as God. This week’s selections dealt with the being known as God, specifically his influence in Nature, and how he apparently leaves a part of himself within all things he creates. 

Emily Bronte’s No coward soul is mine, speaks directly to the idea that God dwells within everyone and everything. “O God within my breast / Almighty ever-present Deity,” (5-6) these lines show that she believes in an internalized God, one who has left a connection open between him and herself. This piece also seems to evoke the images of a battle cry, one that yells out for others to be saved from themselves and made to feel a divine connection. This crying out for having a deep connection with God is also seen in many others of the selections this week by Gerard M Hopkins. Each one of his poems seems to deal with the idea of a God who has left his mark upon everything in the world, and is also within everything. As kingfishers catch fire is a perfect example of this sort of internalized deity that appears within every living thing, “Christ play in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his / To the Father through the features of men’s faces”(12-14). All is one. One is all. Something strange is that the idea of having God within Earthly beings is almost not a Christian belief at all. This idea stems from an almost pantheistic, Pagan, outlook on the world. Everything carries with it a signature of the gods, and is influenced by an outside force of diestic proportions. These poems then take on an interesting additional meaning that they are almost a deeper understand of this being/ beings known as God, or maybe just the idea of playing around with what it means to worship a God in the time of so much scientific advancement in the world. Pied Beauty, also by Gerard M Hopkins, expresses this need to see everything as a simplistic example of the reality of a God, “He father-forth whose beauty is past change / Praise him”(9-10). 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

As children we are taught the phrase, “actions speak louder than words,” occasionally this is applied to how we treat others when making a promise to treat someone with respect, but the more often connotation of this phrase is applied to expressing love through actions instead of showering your love with gifts or meaningless, nonsensical words. Passion. This can not be bought in a store. Sometimes, however, such passion has the ability to warp into something vile and deformed, and from there obsession is formed.

This week, our poems all reflected that sort of warped affection for another human being, and how it is resolved in different ways. One poem in particular highlights the diseased mind once it has been corrupted with a diseased type of love, Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover”. The immediate setting of the poem is dark and dreary, but light enters the home as the lady, assumed to be Porphyria, enters the narrative. Passion quickly perverts the mind of this man and he decides to strangle the woman with her own hair in an effort to keep the beauty with him forever, “That moment she was mine, mine, mine, fair, / Perfectly pure and good: I found / A thing to do, and all her hair / In one long yellow string I wound / Three times her little throat around, / And strangled her.” (36-41). There is something morbidly enthralling about the way that Browning describes this dead woman as still bearing a smile and a bright face after the man has untwisted the hair about her neck. This particular poem sparked a memory in my mind of a song by alternative rock band Avenged Sevenfold called “Little Piece of Heaven” during which the narrator kills his girlfriend in a fit of jealous rage because he believes that she will cheat on him, unlike Browning’s poem however, the woman in the song is able to get her revenge and murder the narrator as well.  

Each of the other poems also reflected this sort of strong emotion that is evoked incorrectly leaving all or both parties fairing rather poorly as a direct cause. Matthew Arnold’s poem “The Buried Life” uses this sort of unspoken love as way of showcasing a battle of emotions in the heart of a man, and how the revealing of such an unmasculine display would end him, “I knew the mass of men concealed / Their thoughts, for fear that if revealed / They would by other men be met / With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;” (16-19). Elizabeth Barrett Browning has a poem, “Lord Walter’s Wife”, with a man who happens to have no real problems expressing himself in words, but is attempting to tell a woman she is beautiful while also being rather condescending in his tone of voice, “ ‘because you are far too fair, / And able to strangle my soul in a mesh of your gold-coloured hair.’ “(3-4). Is this a reflection of the stereotypes of this time period? Perhaps that the woman was not able to do anything without it meaning that she was deliberately courting the attention of everyone around her, even when it was something permanent as eye-color or the tilt of a brow. The sad thought is that we still see these sort of behaviors portrayed today, because the other gender is not allowed to be attractive without people taking notice of them.

Although it is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18 due to blood, gore, and sexual situations, I am going to also add the link to that song I mentioned above in my post…. A Little Piece of Heaven