Friday, August 28, 2009

Hopkins in Glasnevin

Not many writers of note are buried in Glasnevin. Brendan Behan is but his reputation seems to decline year by year, not unjustly I think.

The most famous writer buried there must be the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who became a Catholic convert and a Jesuit. He is buried in the Jesuit plot. His name is the first on the left on the second step on the main monument.

In 1884 he became professor of Greek literature at University College Dublin and spent an unhappy time in Dublin. During this time he wrote what came to called the "terrible sonnets". He died of typhoid fever in Dublin in 1889

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

from the sonnet No Worst There Is None.

The Dublin Theatre Festival this year includes a show about Hopkins' stay and death in Dublin entitled No Worst There Is None.
"This site-specific promenade piece staged in the magnificent surrounds of Newman House conjures the nightmare world of the seminal Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, as he moves towards death. Set in the very house where Hopkins died in the 1880’s, No Worst There is None is a ground-breaking fusion of contemporary choral music, poetry and performance."

The bad news is that when I phoned to book a ticket I was told that the show sold out very quickly and I was put on a waiting list. Maybe it will be extended or put on again after the Festival.

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