On the pier,
Father Gerard Hopkins had begun his retreat
At the very edge of Europe. But to what
Am I retreating? why do I compound
My exile here in the most extreme corner
Of this most extreme land? England, Ireland,
Have disappeared with that boat and I am here.
He remembered the boatmen telling a boy
To carry the minister's bags, their disbelief
That his collar was Catholic, the muttered aside
About a fierce Protestant accentfor a priest.
Head bowed, he endured again the everyday
Claws of exile, the scratches of no harm meant.