Behold the inscape and the zook that your leaves may not fade!

There’s something about contemplating the psalms using this gorgeous and soulful old interlinear translation printed in 1906 that makes the experience even more of a return to being planted by the water courses so that one’s leaves may not fade.

Is it the inscape and the instress? That is, the absolute individuality of the thing that causes it to leap with even more glorious vigour into the realm of one’s experience and awaken your spirit?

Well, as you can tell, I’ve just been reading about Gerard Manley Hopkins’ lovely invention of these evocative words inscape and instress.

It says ‘ere in this book “Hopkins is mainly fascinated by those aspects of a thing, or group of things, which constitute its individual and ‘especial’ unity of being, its ‘individually-distinctive beauty’ or the very essence of its nature. For this unified pattern of essential attributes he coined the word inscape and to that energy or stress of being which holds the inscape together he gave the name instress..

for Hopkins, inscape was a glimpse or strain of a universal harmony, and as such revealed its divine origin. Writing in 1870 on the inscape, strength and grace of a single bluebell he added: ‘I know the beauty of our Lord by it.’

(intro to the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins edited by Gardner and MacKenzie)

Well, this is a coincidence! For 2 reasons; I just wrote a poem the other day, in a fit of enthusiasm, called Implements of Divine Origin about the glorious kitchen implements in the house where I live and how thoroughly revived one feels just to behold them! Pestle and mortors of elemental alchemy and dutch orange slatted spoons of near perfect delight. Ah, those Dutch people know how to design things. AND THEN, just when I was feeling that matter knew no greater capity to inspire, James sends me this wonderful picture of the Zook he has been enthusing about since BardFest, which has just been re-strung to the irish tuning. Oh Glory! And the children have been so inspired too they are going to be jamming along with recorder and guitar! Could domestic bliss know any greater assistance?

Behold the Zook! as James said in his Picture text.. the first I have ever received.

So, as the Middle East transforms itself, the weather makes us ill and the economy tests our sense of humour, the best I can manage at the moment to accompany the evolution, withstand the damp and prepare myself for being big enough for the Big Society, is to continue in my quest to recognise inspiring inscape and instress wherever they may be found, and if not found in sufficient quantities – to create them!

Your favourite examples and creations will all be happily received. Thank you James and family! I’m looking forward to the first soul-nourishing, Elvish renditions on Bouzooki, guitar and recorder..