By J. R. Watson
Why do humans sing hymns? Are hymns poetry? What makes a great hymn? the writer discusses the character of hymns and their specific allure, examines the English hymn as a literary shape, and systematically describes its improvement via 4 centuries, from the Reformation to the mid-twentieth century.
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Additional resources for The English Hymn
You blink in surprise 24 and I wonder what you can see, my funny kin, as you trouble my silence. I am a shelter of lies. Should I learn to speak again, or hopeless in such sanity will I touch some face I recognize? Down the hall the baskets start back. My arms fit you like a sleeve, they hold catkins of your willows, the wild bee farms of your nerves, each muscle and fold of your first days. Your old man's face disarms the nurses. But the doctors return to scold me. I speak. It is you my silence harms.
Today I see the head move, like some pitted angel, in that high window. What is the waiting head doing? It looks the same. Will it lean forward as I turn to go? I think I hear it call to me below but no one came no one came. ELEGY IN THE CLASSROOM In the thin classroom, where your face was noble and your words were all things, I find this boily creature in your place; find you disarranged, squatting on the window sill, irrefutably placed up there, like a hunk of some big frog watching us through the V of your woolen legs.
They gave me your ash and bony shells, Rattling like gourds in the cardboard urn, 8 Rattling like stones that their oven had blest. I waited you in the cathedral of spells And I waited you in the country of the living, Still with the urn crooned to my breast, When something cried, Jet me go let me go. So I threw out your last bony shells And heard me scream for the look of you, Your apple face, the simple creche Of your arms, the August smells Of your skin. Then I sorted your clothes And the loves you had left, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, until you were gone.