Monday, October 19, 2015

Gerard Manley Hopkins*

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844—1889) is one of the most significant poets of the nineteenth century. As a Jesuit priest, he felt a conflict between the humility and turning away of attention from himself that was expected of him, and the need to provide an audience for his art. In 1884 he became professor of Greek and Latin at University College, Dublin.

He developed in his poetry what he called sprung rhythm, which was intended to imitate the rhythm of natural speech, where the first syllable is stressed and is followed by several unstressed syllables. The number of unstressed syllables varies, but the number of stressed syllables remains constant. The stress marks in his poems are intended to help readers to follow the rhythm.

Hopkins once referred to the poem "The Windhover" as the best thing he'd ever written.

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning's minion, king—
---dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his
---Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
---As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and
---Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, — the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
---Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

---No wonder of it: shèer plòd makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
---Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold vermilion.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —
---For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
------For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
---Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
------And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
---Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
------With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
---------------------------Praise him.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Gerard Manley Hopkins: first postthird post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.