Immeasurable Surprise

During one of my wakeful spells last night I was thinking about aging and how, over time,  it may limit my ability to enjoy some things.  Then C.S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory mud pie reference came to mind followed by 1 Cor. 2:9.
Lewis says we are too easily pleased:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.
Even good things will be better in Heaven.
So I was in a good frame of mind to read Patrick Kurp’s post this morning.


….I had been reading Wendy Cope’s Life, Love and The Archers: Recollections, Reviews and Other Prose (Two Roads, 2014), and a piece from 2001, “Larkin’s `First Sight’” sent me back to Larkin’s poem of that title in The Whitsun Wedding (1964):
“Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.
“As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.”
Cope says her first reading of Larkin’s sonnet “knocked me sideways” and made her cry. It left her “amazed and grateful and sad and happy, all at the same time.” Cope reveals that she suffered from depression for many years. When she first read the poem, “the sun was just beginning to come out in my life.” The first half of “First Sight” with its “vast unwelcome” and “wretched width of cold” is customary Larkin, Hardy redux. The revelation comes in line eleven: “Earth’s immeasurable surprise.” What creature, lamb or human, could foresee the existence of spring? It’s just too big, too gratuitously beautiful. The poem’s effect on Cope reminds me of a friend who has lived with depression for most of his life. The only thing that once kept him from killing himself was knowing he could always listen to Bill Evans performing “You Must Believe in Spring.” 
But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret.    1 Corinthians 2:9-10a  Phillips

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