Poetry Sunday: My prayers must meet a brazen Heaven
This poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins beautifully expresses a worry that we all might feel at some point in our lives — that our prayers are ineffective or unable to meet God’s ears, barred by a brazen heaven. In this case brazen = brass, not bold. The speaker hints at his/her shortcomings: the prayers being inadequate and any attempts to transcend the problem by calling for God’s help will automatically fail because the messages can’t get through to a brass heaven anyway!
Like Enos who “wrestled before God,” the speaker describes prayer as a battle, heaven as brass and him/herself as clay with too much iron to be malleable. To some, this is uncharted territory. For others, a familiar journey. Let’s be kind to each other, wherever we are.
My Prayers must meet a Brazen Heaven — Gerard Manley Hopkins
My prayers must meet a brazen heaven And fail and scatter all away. Unclean and seeming unforgiven My prayers I scarcely call to pray. I cannot buoy my heart above; Above I cannot entrance win. I reckon precedents of love, But feel the long success of sin. My heaven is brass and iron my earth: Yea, iron is mingled with my clay, So harden'd is it in this dearth Which praying fails to do away. Nor tears, nor tears this clay uncouth Could mould, if any tears there were. A warfare of my lips in truth, Battling with God, is now my prayer.