Hopkins: peace allows the death of it

In Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, Peace1, “pure peace” is questioned as follows:

What pure peace allows,
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it? 

It would seem that true peace, peace that is foundational, is not “pure”, but is utterly complicated by “alarms of wars, the daunting wars” and therefore seems to hide itself and even to allow “the death of it[self]”. 

Foundational peace is not “pure”, but impure. It is what is termed “true strength” in the I Ching in a passage cited by McLuhan in TT (22):

[true strength] does indeed guide all happenings, but it never behaves outwardly as the leader. Thus true strength is that strength which, mobile as it is hidden, concentrates on the work without being outwardly visible. 

The expression of such “peace” and “strength” manifests itself in letting go — even to its own “death”. But the genitive here (of such “peace” and “strength”) is dual, both objective and subjective. Such peace and strength do not merely lose themselves in creative expression, since creative expression is what they are

This is why they are not abolished in not being “outwardly visible”, even to “the death of it”.  

And this is why McLuhan notes that “pouring [out] is also fulfillment, is not emptying but filling. There’s a complementarity here.”

  1. I.A. Richards cites the poem in full in ‘Gerard Hopkins’ (1926), reprinted in Complementaries (1976).

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