Sheila Jacob: a poem



Gerard Manley Hopkins Burns His Early Poems

He offers them, page by page,

to pincers of flame.

Purple, Keatsian verse

penned at Highgate School.

Christ-centred sonnets

from his Balliol years.

He's parting with them gladly,

resolved to write no more

as he starts his novitiate,

takes first steps

along the narrow Ignatian way

of self-discipline; self-sacrifice.

Stanzas melt, relinquish

rhyme and metre.

Soon – as when Summer of his –

Others end where they began.

Elected Silence, sing to me

And beat upon my whorléd ear.

He sits forward on the hearthrug,

watches old words dissolve

into kindling and coal.

Pinheads of paper

are floating; darting – smudge

the wax-glow of his cheeks.

Ashes have flecked the grate,

drifted under its bars.

soft sift hourglass

New words are sounding,

searching for form and cadence.

He rakes the fire's embers.


Sheila Jacob lives in North Wales with her husband. She was born and raised in Birmingham and resumed writing poetry in 2013 after a long absence. She is frequently inspired by her working class ‘50s childhood. Her poems have been published in a number of UK magazines and webzines. She has also self-published a small collection of poems dedicated to her Dad, who died when she was fourteen.