Weekly Assignment #11

November 9, 2006 at 11:54 am (Weekly Assignments)

Read these nine Hopkins poems, please: “God’s Grandeur,” “The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,” “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo,” “Carrion Comfort,” “No worst, there is none,” “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day,” “Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,” and “My own heart let me have more pity on.”

And, as usual, and for the last time, please post questions and answers on the usual schedule.



  1. Eric Gerson said,

    The frequent use of alliteration in Hopkins’ poetry is obviously meant to accelerate the reading, but is the inclusion of accented vowels a literary device meant to force a decelerated reading?

  2. Holly Ellern said,

    For some reason, the inclusion of lead and gold in “The Leaden Echo” and “The Golden Echo” makes me think of the first and seventh stages of transformation in alchemy which correspond to these metals and their respective planets (Saturn and the Sun). Is there any criticism out there that views these two poems through this lens?

  3. Daniela Newland said,

    Have any readers/scholars/researchers commented on the relationship of Hopkins’s poetry to Modernism?

  4. Laura R. said,

    In terms of prosody, has a comparision been made between the works of Hopkins and Lewis Carroll, since both of their poetic forms seem to incorporate word-play and inventive structure?

  5. Meredith Willis said,

    Perhaps a stupid question, but anyway, I’m asking it. Why does Hopkins use accent marks on many of his vowels and some of his consonants? It this to help the reader/speaker sound the words in the way Hopkins wants or is there something more going on here?

  6. Chris Nelson said,

    How was Hopkins’ Catholicism received by his contemporaries, as Victorian England was, at times, painfully Anglican?

  7. Jake Burnett said,

    I’ll take Laura’s question.

  8. Susanna Branyon said,

    Forgive what may seem like a question-dodge of sorts…but I’m curious: in what way do these qualify as love poems?

  9. Susanna Branyon said,

    I’ll take Daniela’s question…

  10. Josh Gane said,

    Does Hopkins poetry resemble Romantic poetry or modern poetry more closely?

  11. Eric Gerson said,

    I’ll take Josh’s question.

  12. Matt Simmons said,

    First, I must disagree with Eric: the alliteration does indeed tempt one to read quickly, breathlessly searching for a hard stop. But I do not see it as an attempt to “accelerate the reading”; rather, I feel that the rapid, breathless quality of the poetry forces one to stop and meditate on every single word if one is to approach an understanding of the poems–and it is effective, and intentional, as these poems are nothing if not mediations.
    Okay, my question: My favourite part of Hopkins’ poetry is his word choice, as so many words can possibly exist as mutitple parts of speech, with multiple denotations–was this an innovation of Hopkins’, or does it have precedent (and if it does, I want to read that poet)?

  13. Chris Nelson said,

    I’ll take Laura’s question.

  14. Jake Burnett said,

    Chris, I already said I’d take Laura’s question.
    My own question: Could someone give a brief overview of the textual history of Hopkins’ verse?

  15. Lindsay S. said,

    Did Hopkins ever mention any poets whom he might have considered influences?

  16. Daniela Newland said,

    I’ll take Susanna’s question

  17. Aaron Bobick said,

    God’s Grandeur doesn’t seem too grand to me. The words seems fored, especially the last line with that damned “ah!”. Is there anything out there, critically, about his grotesque images and forced form, particulalrly in God’s Grandeur?

  18. Chris Nelson said,

    So you did, Jake. So you did …
    I’ll take Lindsay’s question, then.

  19. Laura R. said,

    I’ll take Meredith’s question.

  20. Meredith Willis said,

    Going to sniff around and see if I can answer Aaron’s question.
    Oh, and I’m sorry for duplicating Eric’s question. Maybe I need new contacts.

  21. Holly Ellern said,

    I’ll try to answer Lindsay’s question.

  22. Daniela Newland said,

    let me sum up the comments Dr. French made in class
    1) Several poems are in sonnet form, famously used by poets for love poetry.
    2) the poems are devoted to God; there is a degree of dedication that is reminiscent of love.
    3) While the poems are not technically a sonnet sequence, they hint at a narrative: struggle after initial infatuation–from love to disilluisionment.
    I only found one MLA article when I searched for Hopkins in connection with “love,” but that article is rather interesting if you look for clues/evidence that at least some of Hopkins’s poetry can be read as love poetry. This essay revisits an article written by a Sister Mary Eleanor who, in 1962, pointed to a parallel between Hopkins’s “Windhover” and Robert Southwell’s meditation 56 from _A Hundred Meditations Upon the Love of God_, a renaissance work (Bouchard). Here is an excerpt from Southwell’s work:
    And is it much, O Lord, that I should offer unto Thy Divine Majesty my heart inflamed in Thy holy love, seeing that Thou, my God, didst so burn upon the Cross with the fire of infinite love, whereon Thou didst put Thyself for my sake and for love of me, insomuch that there sprinkled out so many flames of fire from the sacred breast as there were wounds in Thy most sacred body?
    Other than that, I stick to my statement that “Carrion Comfort” does read more like a love poem than the other ones, but overall I agree with those who said that the “love” aspect should only be read as one minor angle of other possible ones.
    Bouchard, Gary M. “The Curious Case of Robert Southwell, Gerard Hopkins and a Princely Spanish Hawk.” _Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature_ 51.3 (1999)

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