Gerard Manley Hopkins at St. Katherine's Chapel, Lydiate

Poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) worked as a priest at St. Xavier's Church, Everton, in 1880 to 1881. His letters reveal that he disliked working in the the slums of the city and preferred the nearby countryside.

O! Perfect of faith!
Although your chapel stands unroofed
to the grey Lancashire sky,
vast underbelly of God,
it is yeoman-builded, time-proved!

I, the poet-priest, escaped
from the vaporous slums of Liverpool,
sit alone in your house,
once host to Lent lilies, incantations,
companioned by elderflower, field mouse!

Katherine, I see your sainted life shine,
chiselled in the Lydiate reredoes,
I, the convert, know your face
that converted so many,
although dank grass chokes altar-space

--as I know the simple bearded ones
and their hands that thresh,
who drove you to your death,
fire-stump, heart scourging
beheaded end of mortal flesh.

Christopher T. George

By Christopher T. George