For another year we say goodbye to the bluebells, those lakes of wonder, with sorrow. Their appearance each May, so silently their footfall is not heard, so shily and modestly their coming is hardly seen, is so miraculous, such a glory, so piercing a joy, such a seeing again for the first time, it makes me feel that if God doesn’t exist s(h)e damn well ought to. Here is an extract from G. M. Hopkins’ notebooks:
‘I do not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have been looking at. I know the beauty of Our Lord by it. Its inscape is mixed of strength and grace like an ash. The head is strongly drawn over (backwards) and arched down like a cutwater (drawing itself back from the line of the keel). The lines of the bell strike and overlie this, rayed but not symmetrically, some lie parallel. They look steely against (the) paper, the shades lying between the bells and behind the cockled petal ends and nursing up the precision of their distinctness, the petal-ends themselves being delicately lit. Then there is the straightness of the trumpets in the bells softened by the slight entasis and by the square play of the mouth. One bell, the lowest, some way detached and carried on a longer footstalk, touched out with the tips of the petals an oval/ not like the rest in a plane perpendicular to the axis of the bell but a little atilt and so with (the) square-in-rounding turns of the petals…..’
What a great scientist Hopkins would have made.